NASHVILLE, Tenn. -
The Stetson men's basketball team (11-14, 8-6) clinched a berth into the
Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament for the first time since 2008-09, defeating
Lipscomb (9-15, 4-9) 76-66 on Thursday night.
Senior Adam Pegg led the Hatters with 23 points and 12 rebounds for his
fourth double-double of the season.
"It's a great step," Stetson head coach Casey Alexander said
after the game. "There are a lot of steps we still have to climb, but I'm proud
of these guys for accomplishing that. The goal from this point forward is to
keep climbing, put ourselves in the best seed we can get, and give ourselves
the best chance to win."
The first half was similar to the past few games for
Stetson. The Hatters were unable to take
care of the ball, turning it over 13 times in the first 20 minutes, and when
Stetson was able to get a shot off,
the team wasn't efficient in doing so.
The Hatters shot just 10-of-28 (35.7%) from the floor in the first
After an extremely slow start, Stetson used a 7-0 run to tie
the game at 14-14 with 9:36 to play. A
driving layin by senior Joel Naburgs, a three by senior Liam McInerney, and a
short two by junior Willie Green got Stetson back into the game.
Shortly thereafter Lipscomb rattled off 13 straight points
to take a 29-18 advantage with 3:13 remaining in the period. The Hatters were able to cut into the deficit
with a post layup by Pegg and a triple by junior Chris Perez, but the Bisons
went into the break with a 34-26 advantage.
"The first 20 minutes were practically unacceptable,"
Alexander said. "It's mind boggling that we can show up at this stage in the
season, with so much to play for, and not have an edge about [us]...just really
not be excited about being out there.
When that happens, and you're not playing well to begin with, the
problem just compounds itself."
The second half was a different story from the first whistle. Green scored the first basket of the frame,
capitalizing on a pair of offensive rebounds, and the Hatters were off and
running from there. Stetson scored the
first nine points of the half, as a pair of jumpers by Pegg and a three by
Perez gave the Hatters a 35-34 lead, their first since midway through the first
Stetson continued to pour it in offensively, while getting
defensive stop after defensive stop, eventually outscoring the Bisons 22-4
through the first 10:10 of the half. Thanks
to nine points by Pegg within the first four minutes of the frame alone, the
Hatters took a 48-38 lead midway through the second period.
"One helps the other," Alexander said of the Hatters'
quality play on the court and their energy on the sidelines. "The first possession [of the half] Willie
has two offensive rebounds, sticks one back in, and that energizes the guys on
the bench. It runs its way all the way through the team in the same way that
the negatives did in the first half."
Lipscomb fought back, closing its deficit to just four
points on a layup by Deonte Alexander that made it 60-56 with 4:19 to
play. A dunk off of an inbounds play
from Green quickly countered, as the two teams traded baskets for a couple
Free throws by junior Hunter Miller, Naburgs, and junior
Aaron Graham, as well as another bucket by Pegg allowed the Hatters to once
again balloon their lead back up to 11 points, at 70-59, with 37 second to
play. It was a 6-0 run that included
four consecutive defensive stops for Stetson, and the Hatters held on for the
The Hatters turned the ball over only five times in the
second half, and shot 15-of-29 (51.7%) from the floor. Stetson's 27 free throw attempts were the
third most for the Hatters on the year, as were the 19 makes from the charity
Pegg's 23 points and 12 rebounds led the Hatters, marking
his fourth double-double of the season, and the 20th straight game
in double figures. Perez added 17
points, while Graham chipped in with 11 on 6-of-7 from the line. Green finished with eight points and 11
rebounds, his fifth game this season in double figures on the glass.
Lipscomb was led by Alexander's 21 points, while Stephen
Hurt chipped in with 12 points and five rebounds. J.J. Butler recorded a game high seven
assists in the defeat.
Stetson will next travel up to Highland Heights to play at
Northern Kentucky on Saturday, Feb. 16.
The Hatters and the Norse are scheduled to tip off at 7:00 p.m. on
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