The Stetson men's basketball team (2-2) lost at home for the
first time this season, falling to South Florida (4-2) by a score of 63-54 on
Monday night. Senior Joel Naburgs led
the Hatters with 18 points on four three-pointers in the defeat.
"With such small margin for error, like we had in this game,
you have to win the free throw battle, you have to shoot a high percentage, and
you have to have guys really rise up when their time is called," Stetson head
coach Casey Alexander said after the game. "Not to discredit anybody - our effort
was great - it just wasn't our night to finish it off."
Not only was the effort there for the Hatters, but the quality
of play was as well, as the team went toe-to-toe with the Bulls until the final
few minutes of the game. Stetson tied
the game for the fifth and final time of the night when a pair of free throws
from junior Aaron Graham made it 49-49 with 3:50 left to play. Unfortunately, USF quickly went on an 8-0 run
to put the Hatters out of reach and leave DeLand with the 63-54 win.
"I felt like our guys played hard enough to win the game,"
Alexander said. "I'm really proud of their effort. I think they thought they
could win the game, they played like they were going to win the game, but we
just simply weren't good enough down the stretch. I don't think it's anything they did, or we
didn't do. We had some great looks, they just didn't fall in."
A team that used defense to advance all the way to the Third
Round of last year's NCAA Tournament, the Bulls' tough and physical style of
play forced another slow start for the Hatters on Monday. Stetson, which was averaging 82.7 points per
game coming into the night, only had three points at the first media timeout. Fortunately for SU, its opponents had been
shut out at the first break for the second straight contest, as Stetson led USF
3-0 through 4:19.
As the two teams got comfortable, it was South Florida that
took the early advantage, using a 9-2 run to take an 18-12 lead and force a
Stetson timeout with 8:01 to play in the first half. The Hatters stopped the bleeding with a layup
by junior Chris Perez, and then went on a 7-1 run to tie the game back up at
21-21 when a long two-pointer by Graham was good at the 4:35 mark.
After a Naburgs triple cut the USF lead to one point at the
break, the senior guard scored seven out of the Hatters' first nine points of
the second half to give Stetson a 36-34 lead with 15:45 to play. Unfortunately for SU, the Bulls soon went on
a 7-0 run, which included five points from Jawanza Poland, and USF held a 47-39
lead midway through the second half. The
late eight straight points by the Hatters tied the game one final time, but it
wasn't enough to escape with the victory.
USF used a tough inside presence to top the Hatters, scoring
34 points in the paint, grabbing 12 offensive rebounds, and scoring 13 second
chance points. Stetson was depleted a
bit on the inside, playing without freshman forward Brian Pegg, who is injured,
and senior center Adam Pegg, who was serving a one-game suspension from the
Atlantic Sun Conference for his ejection against Southeastern on Nov. 19.
"I'm sure that was part of it," Alexander said about USF
physicality playing a part in the loss. "They hang their hat on defense, and
regardless of what our offense was, or who we had playing, it was going to be
tougher to come by tonight. 54 is a really low number for our team. You throw
[fatigue] on top of playing a really physical team, and it wore us down a bit."
Naburgs led Stetson with 18 points on 4-of-7 from beyond the
arc. His quartet of triples gave the
senior 135 in his career, one shy of the sixth spot in the Stetson record
books. Graham added 15 points and a team
high seven rebounds. Junior Willie Green
chipped in with 11 points, six boards, two assists, and two blocks in the
The Hatters came into Monday's game leading the nation with
20.0 assists per game, but were only able to manage 14 against the Bulls. On only 19 total field goals, that is not so
bad. Senior Liam McInerney, freshman
Logan Irwin, and Perez each recorded three in the game.
USF was led by Toarlyn Fitzpatrick and Poland, who scored 20
and 19 points, respectively. The latter
led the Bulls with 10 rebounds, four coming on the offensive side. USF shot only 25.0 percent from beyond the
arc, but forced Stetson under 30 percent from three-point land (29.2) for the
first time this season.
Stetson will now have its quickest turnaround to date,
playing again at Virginia Commonwealth on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in
Richmond. The game can be listened to
live and for free on WSBB 1230 AM in New Smyrna, 1490 AM in DeLand, at www.myam1230.com, or on HatterVision. VCUAthletics.com will also be providing a
live video stream of the game. Live
Stats, the @StetsonMBB Twitter feed, and Hat-Alerts are also available for
Coach Alexander Interview
Hatter Vision users
returning customers, please login here.