The Florida Tech Panthers had three players in double figures on Wednesday, leading from pillar to post en route to a 70-56 non-conference win over the visiting Warner Royals.
Despite the score, Panthers coach John Reynolds thought his team made too many mistakes and he wasn’t shy about his feelings after the win.
“I didn’t think we played with pride,” he said. “We didn’t play like this was our home court and we were gonna show people how hard we were gonna play and how tough we were gonna be. I’m not mad at them, we won,” he continued. “I’m disappointed in their approach to the season right now. This game is just part of the season. That same effort on Saturday, (at Nova), we get beat by 40.”
DeLise Williams was the Panthers leading scorer with 16 points. She was the teams’ leading rebounder as well, with seven. Gracie Doane had 15 points on the night, including four three-pointers to lead the team in that category. Kailyn Ebb was good for 12 points, highlighted by her 6-for-7 performance from the free-throw line.
It was a little bit of a different starting lineup for the Panthers on this night, including Vaughne-Chavez Gray, Cheyenne Scott, and Ebb.
“Players care who starts, coaches, care who finishes,” said Panthers coach John Reynolds. “When kids play hard and practice hard they should get a chance. If you’re a starter and you’re not playing as hard as I think you need to be playing than what would be the difference if we lost with that group or a different group?”
When Reynolds put the majority of the regular lineup back in with 6:38 to go in the opening quarter, the Panthers led 7-4 thanks to four points from Ebb and a three-ball from Amanda Allen.
Doane hit a three immediately upon her arrival, giving the Panthers a 10-4 lead. The Royals would close to 10-8, thanks to two FIT turnovers before Doane hit another triple with 4:42 to go, making it 13-8. Allen would hit one more with 1:47 to go, putting the Panthers up 20-12. They carried that momentum to a 24-16 lead after the first quarter.
Michaela Gelbaugh has missed the first six games of the season due to injury, but she was put into the lineup for the first time with 8:44 left in the second quarter. She finished 1-for-3 from the field and was 4-of-6 from the line for six points. She also pulled down four rebounds.
“She made good decisions with the ball and it was good to see her on the floor again,” said Reynolds.
The Panthers had a 10-0 about halfway through the second quarter, expanding the lead to 36-20 with 3:48 to go. They led 42-25 at the half. Warner scored just nine points in the second quarter and made just one shot from the floor in nine attempts. They were 8-of-23 from the floor in the half, while the Panthers were 12-of-20.
“We should’ve scored in the fifties in the first half and they shouldn’t have been to 20,” Reynolds said. “I think leadership on this team allows us to play down a notch and we did that tonight.”
The Panthers got off to a good start in the second half, as Doane drained another three 1:29 into the third, upping the Panthers lead to 45-25. Ebb finished off a three-point play a minute later after she got hammered inside and got her layup to fall.
It was a low scoring quarter, with the Panthers holding a 54-34 lead, outscoring the Royals 12-9 in the period.
The Royals (4-7) won the fourth quarter 22-16, as the Panthers did just enough to keep them at a safe distance without running up the score.
For more info: Warner @ Florida Tech Box Score
Next up for the Panthers is a road game at Nova Southeastern on Saturday afternoon. The Sharks lost last Saturday but will come in with a record of 4-3. Kayla Wright who Reynolds said is one of the best players in the country and is shooting 63-64 percent from the floor, will be looking to rebound from a four-point performance last Saturday.
This Saturday’s game tips off at 2:00 p.m. at Rick Case Arena.