By Sean McKnight, Sports Editor
When this year’s basketball season rolled around, a lot of Hatter fans, myself included, were ecstatic at the fact that the men’s basketball team picked up a new head coach. But it was the women’s team who shattered records and set the standard for Stetson athletics this year.
Although the women’s season came to an abrupt end in the WNIT against in-state rival USF, this past year will go down Hatter history as one of the most exciting and compelling seasons any program here has ever had. In the women’s last game of their strongest season in history, the Hatters fell to the USF Bulls 75-56 in St. Petersburg in the WNIT.
USF came out of the gates strong off of the back of Inga Orekhova, who hit six three-pointers and scored 22 overall points for the Bulls. Although Brianti Saunders lead the way with 16 points and Sasha Sims with 11 points, the Hatters just were not playing on the level they usually do. Home court advantage really played in USF’s favor this past Sunday as they were able to keep a good hold on the game from the beginning to the end.
As the Hatters head back to DeLand with their season closing, they can definitely hold their heads high with all that they have accomplished. Going 27-8 overall, 14-1 at home, 12-6 on the road, as well as going 16-2 in the A-Sun conference (losing both times to FGCU) the Hatters were practically unstoppable.
Not to mention their outstanding and record-breaking 16-game win streak where they outscored their opponents 1,336-1,002. The Lady Hatters played with some of the best fundamentals and teamwork I have ever witnessed on a college athletics team. Every player had a key role in the teams perpetuating success.
Whether it was Amber Porter producing 129 blocks as a freshman, the second-highest in A-Sun history, to senior Sims scoring an insane 495 points on the season, every starter carried their weight season-long and never failed. When one starter was having an off day, any player could fill in for her and produce just the same amount of excellence.
Starters Jama Sharp, Porter, Sims, Saunders, Cherisse Burris, Myeisha Hall and C.J. Coddington have all defined in era not only in Stetson athletics, but in Stetson’s women’s collegiate sports.
They demonstrated to Hatter fans that you can’t count out the little school. Solid team work on the court and strong bonds off the court will take you a long way when almost all the odds are against you. A lot of the accolades can also be contributed to head coach Lynn Bria, who helped mold these athletes over the years into exceptional players.
The Lady Hatters showed us that hard work and dedication almost always pays off. My hat is off to these very special athletes for setting the standard for Stetson Athletics this year, and for many years to come.