By Sean McKnight, Sports Editor
Last Thursday, the lady Hatters took on Atlantic Sun Conference rival University of North Florida in a hard-fought battle on their home court where they’ve stayed perfect all season. However, this home turf match up did not go as well as others in the past as Stetson found themselves trailing by four points at halftime in front of a crowd of 1,367.
The first half started slowly for the Hatters as the Ospreys were able to find the net early and get some points on the board against a very competitive Stetson squad. There were quite a few lead changes during the first half. The Hatters played some very physical ball in the paint and were able to force a few turnovers, as well as get a decent amount of rebounds.
However, UNF was on point during that first half and shut down Stetson’s energetic offense. At halftime, they were ahead of the Hatters by a margin of four, and it seemed to the audience that Stetson might be dealt their first home loss in 10 games.
Throughout most of the second half the Hatters found themselves playing catch-up against the Ospreys to stay competitive and not let them run away with the lead. However, when the second half rolled around, Stetson’s squad caught new life and was able to take the lead, briefly, early in the second by a score of 42-41.
UNF had other plans, though, and throughout a majority of the second half the Ospreys lead the Hatters but were never able to lead by any margin greater than four points. Even though the game was rather close in these 10 minutes or so, UNF was able to control Stetson’s offense and keep them from recording the breakout performances that they are use to.
That was until Cherisse Burris was able to convert on a pair of free throws around the six minute mark to tie the score at 64 in this deadlocked match up.
After some impressive ball work and solid team play, the Hatters slowly crept away with the lead.
On the next possession after Burris’ free throws, Amber Porter successfully blocked UNF players Raneisha Lamar. In all the excitement, Stetson’s Britani Saunders picked up the loose ball, drove it down the length of the court, and in spectacular fashion converted on a lay-up that broke the deadlock and put the Hatters out in front of the Ospreys.
It is in rebounds and turnovers where Stetson really excels, evident in this moment when the Hatters were able to convert on a pivotal moment in a difficult match up.
On Stetson’s next possession, Porter marked a layup and the Hatters had a four-point lead on UNF late in the second. Burris was able to score five of Stetson’s seven points late in the game to preserve their victory over the very competitive Ospreys who definitely showed up to play on Thursday night.
At the end of the night, Amber Porter marked 21 points offensively and four defensive blocks. Cherisse Burris recorded a double-double with 12 rebounds and 18 points while C.J. Coddington added a career-high 15 points on an impressive 6-of-8 shooting.
Stetson is now 14-5 overall and 6-1 in the Atlantic Sun Conference with an impressive 10 game win streak at home.
This well-deserved win shows everyone in the A-Sun that not only can the Hatters score 90-plus on you when they are red hot, but they can also come back from being down, fight through adversity, and win when all odds are against them.
These are all signs of a truly cohesive unit comprised of quality players who are all in 100 percent of the time to win the game.