Wagner (3-2) vs. Stetson (0-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, November 25, 6 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Germain Arena (6,000) -- Estero, Florida. Television: None. Home Record: Wagner 2-0, Stetson 0-0. Away Record: Wagner 1-2, Stetson 0-5. Neutral Record: Wagner 0-0, Stetson 0-0. Conference Record: Wagner 0-0, Stetson 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Stetson Hatters go searching for their first win of the season in the inaugural Gulf Coast Showcase, as they clash with the Wagner Seahawks at Germain Arena.
Stetson, which won't even play its first home game of the season until Nov. 30 versus Davidson, is playing a fourth straight game in the state of Florida this evening, every one of those in a different venue. On Friday night, the team battled USF in Tampa and was handed a 72-63 setback, the fifth in as many games for the Hatters to begin the 2013-14 campaign.
Meanwhile, Wagner is finally leaving the friendly confines of the Northeast where it produced three wins in five chances. Last week, the team took out Coppin State in Baltimore (102-87), and also dismissed Vermont at home in New York (68-61).
The winner of this first-ever meeting will go up against the survivor of the St. Bonaventure/Southern Illinois clash, with the losers of those games also matching up in the second round of the event on Tuesday.
Wagner led almost the entire way against Vermont the last time out, with four players scoring in double figures to carry the squad to victory. Kenneth Ortiz was at the top of the list with 15 points, Latif Rivers added 11, while Mario Moody and Jay Harris responded with 10 points apiece for a unit that held the Catamounts to not only 38.8 percent shooting from the floor, but also held the visitors without a single 3-point field goal on 12 chances.
At the moment, the Seahawks are outscoring the competition by a mere 0.2 ppg and yet the defense is again clamping down on those squads to the point where they've been limited to 37.5 percent from the floor and 21.1 percent on the perimeter. Rivers leads the offense with 16.6 ppg and Ortiz checks in with 13.8 ppg to go along with close to four rebounds per outing and a team-best 22 assists.
Stetson shot an impressive 52.8 percent from the floor and knocked down 4-of-8 beyond the arc against USF in the latest outing, but even that was not good enough to overcome 18 turnovers as the Hatters suffered the nine-point road loss. Also playing a key role in the outcome was free-throw shooting as Stetson converted a meager 3-of-5 at the line and the Bulls 25-of-33.
Willie Green led all scorers with 20 points, Aaron Graham pitched in with 15 and Kentwan Smith 12 points, to go along with five assists and a couple of blocked shots. But between the trio there were just two made free throws and seven turnovers.
Green has been the leading scorer for the Hatters in two straight games and is second on the list through five outings with his 10.6 ppg, trailing only Graham and his 12.2 ppg, thanks to 11-of-23 (.478) shooting beyond the arc. As a group, Stetson is producing a mere 57.8 ppg, while being outscored by close to 15 points per contest.
If Wagner can bring that suffocating defense down to the Sunshine State, opponents such as Stetson will have a tough time even keeping the meetings competitive.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Wagner 66, Stetson 52
11/25 10:32:41 ET