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Strong Second Half Leads Malone to Victory Over Florida Tech

Tanease RichardsonPhoto credit: James Ragan Photography

The Malone Pioneers came back to beat the Florida Tech Panthers in the opener of the Tampa Classic women’s basketball tournament on Monday, scoring a 55-50 victory. Malone had three players in double figures, led by Ellen Doyle’s 15. Baylen Dyrlund had 14 and Chrissie Vaughan posted 12.

DeLise Williams (13 points) and Gudlaug Juliusdottir (10) were the only double-digit scorers for the Panthers, who got off to a blistering start, before struggling in the second half.

Tanease Richardson scored four of the Panthers first six points, as they went on a 6-0 run to start the game. Malone was able to hold their head above water in the first quarter, thanks to their three-point shot. Their first three made field goals were three’s, closing the gap to 11-9 before Michaela Gelbaugh hit her second three of the quarter to give the Panthers a 14-9 lead. Vaughan hit a three with 32 seconds left, making it an 18-16 quarter in favor of the Panthers.

The second quarter went back-and-forth early before Florida Tech went on a 7-0 run to take a 29-20 lead with 4:32 left. A layup by Aniquah Swan gave the Panthers a 37-24 lead with 2:14 left. A three-pointer by Groff at the buzzer made it 37-29, heading into the fourth quarter.

Things started to go south in the third quarter for Florida Tech, as they turned the ball over three times and had a scoring drought that lasted over 4 1/2 minutes. That allowed Malone to cut their deficit to 42-36 with 3:00 left in the quarter. The Panthers held on to that six-point lead heading into the final quarter, up 46-40.

The Panthers (4-5), who had led from the opening tip watched that lead disappear when Doyle hit a free throw with 3:36 to go in the game. Holly Groff hit a three-pointer moments later, giving the Pioneers a 50-46 lead with 2:51 left. Juliusdottir hit back-to-back layups, tying the game at 50 before Groff scored to give her team a 52-50 lead. They would extend the lead with two free-throws by Doyle and that was all she wrote for the Panthers.

For more info: Malone @ Florida Tech Box Score

Florida Tech shot 42 percent from the field (21-of-50) and was 3-of-8 behind the arc. They shot just nine free-throws, making five, while Malone was 12-of-20 from the stripe, including 6-for-6 in the second half.

The Panthers won the battle on the glass 31-27 and led 32-18 in points in the paint, but in the end, Malone won where it mattered.

Florida Tech will be right back at it Tuesday, taking on Southern Wesleyan University at 2:00 p..m.