DELAND, FL – You get a point, and you get a point, and you get a point!
On Friday night, it was almost like Oprah was in attendance inside the Edmunds Center in Deland, Florida, only she was giving out points as opposed to cars or other gifts.
Both the Stetson Hatters and The Citadel Bulldogs piled up the points over the course of the evening. A combined 228 points were scored between the two teams, and a total of 10 players scored in double-figures.
Freshman Kaelon Harris scored a game-high 26 points for the Bulldogs, and he hit four free throws in the closing seconds to seal the deal for The Citadel.
The Bulldogs came away with the 116-112 win over the Hatters, dealing Stetson their first loss in the process.
It was a back-and-forth game to start things off. Then, two quick three pointers by Brian White and Matt Frierson on consecutive possessions gave the Bulldogs a comfortable 14-point cushion with under seven minutes to play in the opening half.
Stetson cut the deficit down to as little as seven points before the half was out, but The Citadel managed to get it back to double-digits before the buzzer. The Bulldogs took a 59-49 lead into the second half.
In the second half, Stetson continued to fight. Whenever the Hatters would try to cut into the lead, the Bulldogs seemed to have an answer.
The Citadel would manage to take a 16-point on three separate occasions in the second half, but credit the Hatters for continuing to fight right down to the wire.
With 7:22 left on the clock, Frankie Johnson connected on a three pointer to give the Bulldogs a 96-80 lead. At that point, the game looked to be over.
Enter Derick Newton.
He scored 11 of the Hatters’ next 21 points over a span of five-plus minutes, and his jumper with 1:38 left on the clock brought Stetson to within 4, at 105-101.
Luke Doyle would make the Bulldogs pay for a turnover, connecting on a three pointer with 1:22 to play, cutting the deficit to a single point. Down the stretch, the Hatters were never able to take another lead of their own.
Frierson answered Doyle’s three with one of his own, and the Bulldogs hit their free throws in the final minute to seal the deal.
The Citadel bent, but didn’t break, and came away with the hard-fought 116-112 win over the Stetson Hatters.
As a team, the Bulldogs shot 18-of-41 (43.9%) from three point range in the win. Four players scored in double-figures, led by freshman guard Kaelon Harris, who poured in a game-high 26 points off the bench.
Brian White and Quayson Williams added 23 points apiece, while Matt Frierson added 12 points of his own, none bigger than his three pointer with just over a minute to play in the game.
As for the Hatters, they shot a combined 39-of-74 (52.7%) from the floor, and 9-of-22 from three point range. Six players scored in double-figures for Stetson, including all five of their starters.
Derick Newton paced the Hatters with 23 points and 9 rebounds, while Divine Myles (21 points), Angel Rivera (17 points), Luke Doyle (13 points), B.J. Glasford (12 points), and Larry Dennis (14 points) all put together double-digit performances.
With the win, The Citadel Bulldogs (3-1, 0-0) notched their first road win of the year, and extended their winning streak to three games overall. They will be in tough to extend their winning streak to four, as they go on the road to take on the 20th-ranked Iowa State Cyclones on Sunday afternoon.
The loss was the first for the Stetson Hatters (2-1, 0-0), and it brings an end to their three-game home stand to open up the 2016-17 season. Up next for the Hatters is a mini two-game road swing, starting with a date against the East Carolina Pirates on Sunday afternoon.
– T. Bennett