Never trailing the entire game, the
Stetson men's basketball team (1-1) opened up its home slate of contests with a
convincing 88-66 victory over Florida A&M (0-2) on Tuesday night at the
Edmunds Center. Senior Adam Pegg led the
Hatters with 19 points, on eight-of-ten shooting from the field, to help
Stetson improve to 1-1 on the season.
"I'm proud of our guys," Head Coach Casey Alexander said
after the game. "I think we really
competed for 40 minutes. It wasn't
pretty the entire time. We had much more
success on both sides of the floor in the first half, but our guys are really
trying hard to do what we ask them to do, which is goal number one for a coach."
The Hatters scored the first bucket of the game on a jumper
from the top of the key by junior Willie Green, and there was no looking back
from there. Stetson opened up to a 14-7
advantage less than five minutes in when junior Aaron Graham nailed a
three-pointer and then connected on a pair of free throws in consecutive Hatter
SU extended its lead to double digits for the first time
when Green slammed home a tip dunk with 9:42 to play in the first, giving
Stetson a 25-14 advantage midway through the period. After a layup by the Rattlers, freshman Leke
Solanke matched Green with a thunderous tip dunk of his own, igniting the
Stetson crowd and sending the Hatters on a run that extended the lead to 19
four times before the half ended.
Stetson went on a 10-1 run, beginning with a layup by senior
Liam McInerney with 8:12 to play in the half, and concluding with a nice post
move by Pegg with 5:27 remaining. The
stretch gave the Hatters a 37-19 lead.
The Hatters finished the half up 48-29 when freshman Brian
Pegg hit junior Chris Perez on a perfect back door cut in the final possession
of the period. Stetson put forth a phenomenal
shooting percentage of 64.5 percent, and went 5-for-11 from beyond the arc
during the frame.
"More than anything, we had the patience we want [in the
first half]," Alexander continued. "In
preparation we talked about taking a great shot for our team, and for the most
part we really did that. We threw the
ball into the post seven times in the first half, and we scored on all seven
possessions. That's a group of players
that are trying to do what we ask them to do."
A layup in the lane by freshman Logan Irwin, and a
three-pointer by senior Joel Naburgs got Stetson out to a similarly hot start
in the second half. The 27-point lead
that Graham gave the Hatters on a breakaway dunk with 17:39 to play in the game
slowly began to fade as the Rattlers started hitting some shots, and the
Hatters went a bit cold.
Florida A&M used a 10-0 run midway through the period to
cut the lead to 69-53 with 8:33 to play on a layup by Jamari Bradshaw. After Alexander called a 30 second timeout to
rally the troops, the Hatters fed the ball into the post to Pegg to stop the
bleeding. The Stetson center scored in
the paint to stop the FAMU run.
"We called a couple plays to get the ball inside," Alexander
said. "Adam's a guy that can get us a
basket or a foul, and our guys know that.
He wants that challenge, and our guys know that we can count on
him. It was great that when we went to
him, he delivered, and settled the storm a little bit."
The Rattlers didn't quit there though, getting as close as
11 points, at 76-65, with 4:38 to play in the game. That was when Graham hit his second of three
treys on the night to get the Stetson lead back to 14 points and ultimately put
away Florida A&M.
Graham, Perez, and Pegg all hit free throws down the stretch
as Stetson went on to defeat the Rattlers 88-66 and improve to 1-1 on the
season. Pegg led SU with 19 points,
while Graham added 16, Naburgs chipped in with 11, and Irwin added 10.
The Hatters recorded 21 assists, making it two straight
games with 20 or more assists to start the season. Florida A&M, on the other hand, only
managed to tally nine assists on their 27 baskets in the game. Stetson turned it over 15 times to the
Rattlers 17, but the Hatters outscored FAMU 26-13 off of turnovers.
Florida A&M was led by Muhammad Abdul-Aleem, who scored
a game-high 20 points. Jamie Adams added
13, and Markee Teal led all players with seven rebounds.
Stetson will next host Southeastern on Monday, Nov. 19 at
7:00 p.m. at the Edmunds Center. The
game can be watched for free on HatterVision and ASun.TV, or listened to live
on WSBB 1230 AM in New Smyrna and 1490 AM in DeLand.
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