The Florida Tech men’s basketball team fell to 0-2 in Sunshine State Conference play on Wednesday, after an 82-72 loss to the Lynn Fighting Knights at the Clemente Center.
“With the lack of depth and the inexperience we have coming off our bench with freshman, freshman, freshman, we can’t play 40 minutes of zone,” said Panthers coach Billy Mims.
Jordan Majors had a good night in the loss, with 23 points, seven assists and three rebounds. Michael Milligan was 6-for-9 from the floor and scored 16 points, Richard Coil had 15 points and Sam Daniel had 11, despite going a very uncharacteristic 3-for-12 from the field.
Sam worked hard,” said Mims. “He played the entire game and worked his tail off but you know why he couldn’t get good looks, because their pressure pushed us out of our offense, so he was forced to take bad shots and we settled for bad shots.”
Valur Valsson had six rebounds to lead the Panthers and added five points and five assists.
The Panthers overcame a 15-point halftime deficit and took their first lead of the contest with 10:33 left, at 61-59. Unfortunately, with guys like Antonis Pefanis, Patrick Anderson and Derek Murphy still unable to play, the Panthers just ran out of gas down the stretch, as the Fighting Knights ended the game on a 20-5 run.
“We played the whole second half in man and they went 2-for-10 behind the arc, in the first half we played zone and they were 6-for-14 behind the arc,” said Mims. “If we would’ve played the entire game man-to-man I don’t know if we could’ve lasted. I had Sam on four fouls, Mike Milligan fouls out, RJ has three, Val has four. I only played one half in man and I got most of my team about to foul out of the game.”
The Fighting Knights outrebounded, 40-27, and had 15 second-chance points to FIT’s seven. Lynn had a lopsided 34-2 advantage off the bench, which puts in black and white, exactly what Mims eluded to.
Florida Tech (3-5, 0-2 SSC) got down early, shooting just 41.4 percent from the field in the first half, (12-of-29), while Lynn shot 54.8 percent (17-of-31), helped by those six three’s. The Panthers were just 4-of-12 behind the arc in the first 20 minutes.
“We didn’t execute our offense,” said Mims of the first half. “We weren’t flying around, we didn’t defend well, a lot of standing around. “We weren’t contesting shots and they got a lot of open looks, that’s why they made six three’s. They outmuscled us, they outworked us and that’s effort.”
Down 45-30 to start the second half, the Panthers reeled off 10 straight points to get back into it. They continued their onslaught, scoring their biggest lead of the night when Coil slammed one home with 5:40 left, putting his team up 67-62.
“We were aggressive in our offense,” said Mims of the second half run. “We moved the ball better we got better looks and got better shots.”
Unfortunately, Lynn got their feet under them again and overtook the Panthers down the stretch.
For more info: Lynn @ Florida Tech Box Score
Next up for the Panthers is another Sunshine State Conference game against the Eckerd Tritons on Saturday at the Clemente Center.
“We’re gonna play an even better team on Saturday,” Mims said. The gameplan won’t change a whole lot because they’re very similar. Eckerd is the most physical team in the league and if we can’t execute our offense Eckerd is going to push us out of what we wanna do and we’re gonna struggle again to make good shots.”
Saturday’s tip is scheduled for 4:00 p.m., but will likely be closer to 4:30, as the men’s game takes place 30 minutes after the women are done. Follow us @Sports_Lowdown on Twitter for an updated start time at the conclusion of the women’s game.