TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Florida State needed some scoring punch down the stretch. Montay Brandon was happy to fill that need.
Brandon scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half as Florida State won its third straight game, knocking off Stetson 63-59 on Monday.
”It took me a while to figure out who I was, to find my niche,” Brandon said. ”This year, I figured out that I’m a great player when I do what I’ve been blessed to do with my size and body and get to the basket and finish. That’s what I can do. I’m a finisher.”
Brandon has averaged 16.6 points in his last five games.
”I see the progress they’ve made,” Stetson coach Corey Williams said of the Seminoles. ”They continue to get better. Teams better not blink their eye at Florida State because if you do that they could come up and kick your behind.”
Williams was an FSU assistant for six seasons before taking over the Hatters in 2013-14.
Xavier Rathan-Mayes added 14 points, knocking down all eight of his free throws including two which capped a 6-0 run and put the Seminoles up 60-52 with 1:04 left. Rathan-Mayes was just 3 of 9 from the floor but added seven assists.
Brandon finished 7-of-11 shooting and added six rebounds. FSU (7-5) shot 46 percent from the field (23 of 49). Phil Cofer added seven points and eight rebounds.
The Seminoles again struggled from beyond the 3-point arc, making just 2 of 11. Florida State needed six straight points to go into the break with a 29-26 lead.
Kentwan Smith led Stetson (3-10) with 21 points and Angel Rivera added 13. The Hatters never led in the second half but closed within 54-52 on Smith’s free throws with 2:54 left.
”I thought they outhustled us,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. ”They were a lot more alert. They created baskets from their energy.”
The Hatters shot 37 percent (23 of 62). Kyle Sikora had 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Hatters, who have lost five consecutive games.
Stetson: The Hatters recent losing streak includes double-digit losses to IPFW, Davidson, Florida Atlantic and Georgia Southern.
Florida State: Xavier Rathan-Mayes has 25 assists in his last three games. … FSU continues to struggle at the free-throw line. The Seminoles had made 65.7 percent of their shots from the line this season and made only 15 of 26 (57.7 percent) in the win over the Hatters.
Stetson hosts Florida Tech on Dec. 30.
Florida State hosts Florida on Dec. 30.