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Stetson cruises to victory over Kennesaw State; Amber Porter dominates

After having a subpar performance the last time out by her standards, Stetson’s Amber Porter got a talk from that important person: her head coach.

Photo by Jim Hogue.

Kennesaw, GA -- Amber Porter netted a double-double with 28 points and 11 rebounds in Stetson’s 98-75 victory over Kennesaw State.

The Hatters (12-5, 4-1 A-Sun) got out the gates quickly as they opened the game with an 18-0 run. And it put the Owls (4-13, 2-4 A-Sun) in too deep of a hole to recover from.

“It was frustrating,” said Kennesaw State coach Nitra Perry. “I am disappointed on how we started the game. I was frustrated because my players…and how hard they’ve worked to get to this point. And then to come out there and have kind of a relapse.”

“Kennesaw (State) to me is one of the hardest working teams in the conference,” said Stetson coach Lynn Bria. “I think telling my players [before the game], ‘You better bring it because they will punch you right in the mouth if you don’t.’ That’s basically what I told them.

“To me, I think they are one of the hardest working teams in the conference. Our kids have respect for them, they knew they had to come out quickly and play hard.”

During that initial wave of offensive explosion by the Hatters, their two freshmen really stood out: Brianti Saunders and Amber Porter. They led the way during that run with 7 and 4 points respectfully.

Kennesaw State’s first basket didn’t come until the 14:50 on a Kristina Wells three-pointer. But instantly the Hatters’ C.J. Coddington got behind the Owls for a quick layup in transition. While Kennesaw State hit a couple of more shots, the Hatters’ Sasha Sims and Jama Sharp nailed back-to-back three-pointers to make it 28-8 with 11:59 remaining.

The Owls were able to climb back into the game and cut the lead to 44-31 with 29 seconds to play. After calling timeout, Stetson drew up a play that allowed Sasha Sims to score on a layup right before the half to make it 46-31.

As the second half began, Kennesaw State responded with much more tenacious play. They were able cut into the deficit, but once again Porter scored on an offensive put back to keep the lead extended. Not even the valiant effort of the Owls’ star Kristina Wells was enough to surmount the balanced effort of Stetson.

But this game was about Porter.

Sometimes all a player needs is a heart to heart from someone that matters -- and someone they trust. After having a subpar performance the last time out by her standards, Stetson’s Porter got that talk from that important person: her head coach.

And she responded like a champion.

“I saw some growth today,” said a proud Bria in regards to her freshman post. “We had to have a little heart to heart after the last game -- sometimes that clears their head. She wants to be great. Today, she had a completely different response to when things didn’t go her way.”

Bria -- known in basketball circles as one of the preeminent motivators in the business -- got the result she desired. That talk galvanized a usually reserved Porter. The look that she had from the outset was poles apart from the one against Mercer on Thursday.

And while the 6-foot-3 freshman is a woman of few words, her play yesterday spoke volumes.

“I just wanted to win,” said the very soft spoken Porter.

She looked to dominate from the opening tip and played with such an aggressive nature – it was obvious that she heard every scintilla echoed from her coach. Every possession Porter either got deep post position or crashed the offensive boards which usually amounted to two points.

It makes sense why Bria had that conversation with Porter when one sees her play. She runs with such graceful speed, she has an unbelievable soft touch and is a force on both ends of the floor.

Porter was in such offensive rhythm that Bria continued to run the same play: “Get the ball to Porter”

“I just kept telling our players to keep feeding the ball to her,” said Bria.

It’s fitting that Porter had this type of performance in front of former Stetson post player and legend, Kristy Brown. Brown – recognized as the Stetson’s all-time greatest player – was in attendance. And she didn’t leave disappointed as she witnessed a great team victory led by another great post player.

Stetson also got major contributions from Sims (18 points) and Saunders (17 points). Cherrise Burris and Coddington also pitched in with 10 points apiece. Sims also is now the Hatters' all-time leading in blocked shots with 138.

Kennesaw State was led by an outstanding performance from their do-everything guard, Wells. She scored a game and career-high 32 points and grabbed 9 rebounds. Freshman Deandrea Sawyers was the only other player in double figures with 17 points.