When you ask the Stetson Hatters about producing one of the nation’s top turnarounds since last year, they get a little defensive.
OK … a lot defensive. The Hatters point to the team’s defensive effort as the key to improving from six wins a year ago to 18 wins and a spot in the General Shale Brick A-Sun Championship semifinals on Friday afternoon.
“Our defensive intensity and our hard work in practice have made a big difference,” commented Tierra Brown. “Our commitment to defense really kicked in at the first of January and that has even helped our offense follow suit.”
Stetson’s shut-down performance against Kennesaw State in Wednesday night’s 65-47 quarterfinal victory certainly made the difference. The Hatters limited KSU to just 26 percent shooting for the game including a frigid 3-for-17 from the three-point arc. Throw in 20 forced turnovers and Stetson never trailed, cruising to its first tournament victory since claiming the title in 2005.
“I think we have played well. You can’t deny our body of work throughout the year,” stated third-year head coach Lynn Bria. “We want to be good defensively. We sold the kids on it and they bought into it. I told them before the year that if we play hard and play together that we’d win a lot of games.”
This team is not a one-trick pony, however. The Hatters rank second in the A-Sun in field goal percentage and shot a blistering 51 percent from the floor against Kennesaw State. Brown shouldered most of the load. The senior set a new A-Sun Championship record by drilling all five of her 3-point attempts on the way to a career-high 25 points.
“I know the end is near so I’ve been practicing and playing with a lot of energy and enthusiasm,” said Brown
Now she has a day’s rest as she and the rest of the team prepares for their next opportunity for a statement: a match-up with either No. 3 Campbell or No. 6 Belmont with a berth in the championship game on the line.