ASUN Champions, NCAA Tournament Bound!

Coach holds trophy.

Jalen Blackmon set an ASUN record for most points in an ASUN Championship game with 43 points and was named the MVP of the ASUN tournament. Blackmon, Stephan Swenson, and Aubin Gateretse were the three Hatters on the All-Tournament Team.
The Edmunds Center was packed as the 2,328 fans brought the energy from before tip-off until they rushed the court at the expiration of the game clock.

The Stetson Men’s Basketball team won their first ASUN Championship and earned their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Hatters are going to the dance, after a 94-91 victory over Austin Peay. 

Austin Peay started the game aggressively and took an 11-3 lead over the first couple minutes. Swenson found Tristan Gross for a corner three and Treyton Thompson at the top of the key for three on back-to-back possessions to get the Stetson offense rolling.

Player drives to the basket.
Stetson guard Jalen Blackmon scored a career-high 43 points.

The Governors answered both of Stetson shots, so they trailed 16-9. However, those two threes unlocked the offense as Stetson went on a 10-0 run to take a 19-16 lead, getting buckets from Swenson, Blackmon, Gross and Thompson.

Austin Peay retook the lead, but another three from Gross tied the game up at 22. With the score tied at 26, the Hatters fell behind 26-35 as the Governors went on a 9-0 run. Over the last two minutes, Stetson went on a 10-4 run as Swenson hit a layup just before the halftime horn sounded. The Hatters trailed 36-39 as they went into the locker room. 
Both teams started the second half without scoring for over a minute and half, but Blackmon laid one up and in to put the Hatters down one. On the next possession, Alec Oglesby splashed one home from beyond the arc to give Stetson a 41-39 lead.

The two teams traded the lead back and forth, but the Hatters fell behind by seven and Head Coach Donnie Jones called a timeout. The Hatters came back onto the court and Treyton Thompson scored. The defense forced a turnover and Blackmon cashed in a three to make it a two-point game. With that three pointer, Blackmon scored 16 straight points for Stetson over four minutes to give the team a 65-62 lead.

Austin Peay tied the game up at 65 and Oglesby answered from beyond the arc to put the Hatters back up three. A free throw parade for Stetson started after that with six and a half minutes left in the game. Stetson shot 13 free throws in a row before Oglesby scored a layup with 2:55 left in the game to put the Hatters up 80-74.

Packed stands in the Edmunds Center.

You could feel the nervous energy in the crowd as Stetson was looking to make history and Austin Peay was doing everything in their power to stop that from happening. The Governors hit two free throws, but Blackmon made a driving layup to put the Hatters back up six.

Austin Peay hit a three to cut the Stetson lead to three and then fouled Aubin Gateretse who converted on both his free throws. The Governors made 87-86 with back-to-back buckets with 57 seconds left before fouling Gateretse again. He once again hit both free throws extending the lead back to three. Blackmon then hit two free throws putting the Hatters up by five.

The Governors wouldn’t go away. They made a layup and hit a free throw to make it a two-point game. Blackmon was once again sent to the free throw line going 1-2 to put the Hatters up three with 13 seconds left. The two teams traded free throws and Stetson held onto a 94-91 lead with four seconds left. The defense held strong, not fouling as the Governors put up the shot and it missed.

The final horn sounded and the fans rushed the court to celebrate with the team. Tears flowed from fans who had watched this team for decades and players who had achieved their dreams and goals.

Coach holds ASUN trophy during celebration
Head Coach Donnie Jones celebrates with the team after they win their first ASUN Championship on Sunday. The win earns Stetson a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.

Blackmon scored a career high 43 points, going 12-22 from the field, 5-9 from three and 14-17 from the free throw line. Gateretse and Swenson each tallied 13 points with Oglesby rounding out the double-digit scorers with 10. As a team, the Hatters shot 52% from the field, 52.9% from three and 76% from the free throw line. 

Stetson will now have a week of practice before the selection show on Sunday, March 17. It will air on CBS at 6 p.m. If the Hatters are part of the first four, they will play in Dayton on March 19 or 20. If they are slotted directly into the first round, they will play on March 21-22.

Go Hatters!