By Chris Raimondi
KSU’s men’s basketball team grabbed its first conference road win of the season in a tight contest on Friday night in Deland, Fla. against the Stetson Hatters, winning 67-63.
The Owls had three players score double-figures as Orlando Coleman led the way with 18, Delbert Love with 16 and Nate Rucker with 11. A Coleman alley-oop assisted by Yonel Brown with one minute remaining in the game followed by a series of game-clinching free-throws by Brown and Love sealed the deal as KSU was able to edge out a road victory and split the season series with Stetson.
“This was a great team win and this group continues to fight,” KSU interim head coach Jimmy Lallathin said.
Both teams struggled to put the ball in the basket early on as KSU and Stetson each shot under 40 percent in the first half. KSU grabbed the early lead with a Coleman three-pointer to make the game 3-0. The team’s traded baskets for the next 10 minutes with KSU never gaining a larger lead than four. Stetson’s guard Kentwan Smith was one of the only players having success offensively as he scored 12 of the Hatters’ first 14 points and finished the first half with 16.
With less than one minute to go before half time, KSU led by one until a Bernard Morena three-pointer with 42 seconds reaming extended the lead to four at 29-24. Coleman then drew a foul on the Owls’ next possession and converted both free-throws to take a six point lead with 13 seconds to go. Senior Andrew Osemhen committed a foul with less than a second left that allowed the Hatters to make a pair of free-throws and reduce the deficit to four. The half ended 30-26 in KSU’s favor.
KSU caught fire in the second half by shooting 60 percent from the field. Love went 3-3 from three-point territory and 4-6 from the field, netting a total of 13 in the second half. Stetson was able to have more success shooting as well, but the Owls were able to silence the Hatters’ leading scorer in Smith by holding him to just four points and one rebound in the second half.
10 second half turnovers kept the Owls from being able to take control of the game despite red hot shooting and going 10-13 from the free throw line. Stetson gained its first lead of the game after a Smith layup made the game 44-43. A pair of Stetson free throws at 8:50 extended their lead to three but the Owls wouldn’t allow a greater lead.
After trading the lead five times and two ties over the next seven minutes, the Coleman alley-oop at 1:02 gave the Owls the three point lead. Love converted a pair of free throws and Brown made 4-4 inside of one minute and KSU was able to escape with the road victory, 67-63.
“Orlando (Coleman) came up big for us and Delbert (Love) and Nate (Rucker) came up with some big baskets for us at the end,” coach Lallathin said. “We kept our composure and answered their shots down the stretch and Yonel (Brown) made some huge free throws to clinch it.”
KSU improved to 3-12 in the conference and 6-22 overall. The team will play its final road game of the season on Sunday in Fort Myers, Fla. against Florida Gulf Coast at 1:30 p.m. before returning home on Thursday Feb. 23 when they play Jacksonville.