Step one of Stetson’s plan to go on a winning streak was accomplished on Saturday as the Hatters (9-14, 2-5) upset the North Florida (UNF) Ospreys (9-15, 4-3) 88-74.
“This morning, someone in the locker room put ‘the streak starts now,’” said Stetson junior guard Luke Doyle. “We listed the first five games we have today moving forward and we just crossed off the first one.”
The Hatters, who trailed by nine at halftime, won in large part to shooting 74.2% in the second half. It was an impressive performance, which led to a 23-point differential in second half scoring.
“We knew that we were going to be fine,” said senior guard Divine Myles. “We’re really great in the second half. So we just kept chipping away, playing with each other and got the win.”
Stetson’s sluggish start to the game was due to UNF’s zone defense. UNF extended it behind the three-point line – causing Stetson some major issues.
“The first half it was kind of hard to figure out,” said Doyle. “They pressured up high so we really couldn’t break the first layer of it.”
It led to the Hatters shooting less than 30 percent in the first half. On the other end of the court, they struggled to keep the Ospreys out of the paint as they shot over 51 percent. As a result, the Ospreys took a 41-32 lead into halftime.
It was a deficit that Stetson only needed 8:25 of second-half game time to overcome as it took a 60-59 lead over UNF with 11:35 remaining in the game.
The two teams would trade hoops over the next few minutes with the Ospreys taking their last lead at 63-62 with 9:14 remaining.
The Hatters then closed the game in impressive fashion – outscoring the Ospreys 26-11 down the stretch to win the game.
It was a much-needed win according to head coach Corey Williams. He says his team is getting healthy at the right time for the team to make a run, but says he wants them to stay focused on the task at hand.
“We feel like we have a chance to position ourselves, perhaps, for a home game,” he said. “But what we can’t do is start looking down the road. “We’ve got to take it one game at a time.”
The zone-busting sophomore forward Derrick Newton led the Hatters with 26 points. Doyle had 19 and Myles chipped in 16 with 11 rebounds and 7 assists.
Senior forward Chris Davenport led UNF with 26 of his own while senior guard Dallas Moore chipped in 11.
Stetson next takes the floor on Jan. 30 as it hosts Jacksonville. UNF stays on the road the same evening as it travels to Florida Gulf Coast.