Victoria McGowan returned to the line-up Friday, but Jama Sharp stole the spotlight early.
Sharp scored 18 first-half points on 7-of-9 shooting as Stetson (1-2) defeated Florida A&M (1-1) 88-67 in the Hatters’ home opener Friday night at the Edmunds Center.
The Hatters have now won 20 of their last 22 games at home dating back to January of 2011.
“I thought we played well, it was nice to win, and nice to be at home,” Stetson head coach Lynn Bria said. “We had a nice start, Jama Sharp hitting those four threes kind of opened up the game for us. I was just really pleased with our effort. We still have work to do and we have to get better in certain areas.”
After being sidelined with an injury the last game and a half, McGowan scored 23 points and collected 12 rebounds while playing 33 minutes. It was her 17th career 20+ point game and her 10th career double-double. She also added seven assists and five steals.
“Victoria does everything, she is just a great player,” Bria said. “The worst thing that happened for our opponent was that she had to sit out a game and a half because she came out like a warrior, like it was her first game ever. I thought she did a really good job of handling the press and finding her open teammates. She made a lot of great passes.”
Sharp got the Hatters off to a blistering start, connecting on back-to-back three-pointers in the first 65 seconds of the game. Stetson went on to hit seven of its first eight shots from the floor en route to an 18-13 lead less than five minutes into the ball game.
The Rattlers battled back and took a one point lead on a three-pointer by Kimberly Sparkman with 6:43 remaining in the half.
"Florida A&M is a good team, they are scrappy, and they really gave us problems early in the game," Bria said.
The lead didn’t last long as Shanasa Sanders answered with a three of her own. She then forced a FAMU turnover that led to an uncontested lay-up by Sharp, and the Hatters were back ahead by four.
Stetson finished the half on a 6-0 run, capped by two lay-ups by McGowan, to take a 46-38 lead into the locker room.
Stetson quickly extended the lead in the second half. Another McGowan lay-up at the 18:24 mark put Stetson ahead by 10, and C.J. Coddington converted a steal into a fastbreak bucket to give Stetson a commanding 65-45 lead with 11 minutes remaining.
Sanders (15) and Cherisse Burris (12) also scored in double figures for the Hatters.
Jasmine Grice led the Rattlers with 19 points.
The Hatters will travel to Tallahassee to take on Florida State on Sunday at 2 p.m. The Seminoles are 2-0 and receiving votes in the AP Top 25 poll. The audio broadcast of the game can be heard for free on HatterVision, or on the radio via WJTV 1490 AM in DeLand or WSBB 1230 AM in New Smyrna Beach (myam1230.com).
Notes: Stetson outscored Florida A&M 46-16 in the paint and 10-2 on fastbreak points … Janelle Mills became the 26th player in school history to play in 100 career games … Neither team missed a free throw in the first half (FAMU 13-13, Stetson 2-2) … McGowan moved up to 16th on Stetson’s all-time scoring list … Sasha Sims recorded a block for the seventh straight game ... Stetson leads the Atlantic Sun with 23 three-point field goals ... Sharp's seven field goals was a career-high.