It wasn’t the prettiest of games but the Florida Tech Panthers women’s basketball team came back from Christmas break and beat a very feisty Palm Beach Atlantic team 54-53 at the Clemente Center on Saturday.
“It wasn’t anything I didn’t expect, it’s a conference game,” said FIT head coach John Reynolds. “That might be the best 1-11 team I’ve ever seen in our league. They’re 0-6 in our league and they’ve been in every game except one.”
The Panthers 6-5, 3-2 SSC) had three scorers in double figures, led by Tanease Richardson with 16. Kailyn Ebb and Gracie Doane each had 12, with Doane going 4-for-9 behind the arc. Markeema Crawford pulled down 11 boards for the Panthers, to lead in that category.
Ebb drove to the basket early and scored the first five Panther points. Florida Tech held leads of 11-4 and 17-8 in the first quarter before the Sailfish made it 17-10 at the buzzer.
“Kailyn Ebb carried us in the first quarter,” said Reynolds. “In the fourth quarter, watch her defense she was one of the differences out there.”
After PBA scored the first basket of the second quarter, the Panthers went on a 6-0 run and led 23-12 on a hoop by Richardson with 7:07 to go. Doane made a three-pointer moments later, making it 26-14. The Sailfish answered with a 7-0 run, highlighted by a three by leading scorer Hannah Grimm, who finished with a game-high 23 points. That made it 26-21.
The Panthers closed out the half with a 32-25 lead, shooting 34.3 percent from the field (11-of-32), while the Sailfish were 12-of-32.
Caroline Patrick hit a three-pointer for PBA with 6:10 left in the third to get her squad to within four at 36-32. Two free-throws and a layup by Grimm tied the game at 36 with 5:11 to go in the quarter. The visitors led for the first time on a free-throw by Tyler Davis, with 4:34 to go.
After Gudlaug Juliusdottir scored to put the Panthers up by one, Doane hit two consecutive three’s to make it a 44-37 game. Davis would make it 44-39 before the end of the third, setting up a very hotly contested fourth quarter.
Florida Tech stretched the lead to 51-45 before Ciara Cumbie three-ball made it 51-48 with 6:26 to go. The teams went back-and-forth for the next couple minutes before Davis made it 54-52 with 2:46 to go. A free-throw by Mina Salhia made it a one-point game with 1:42 to go and then things got interesting.
Crawford was hammered going up for a shot with 1:17 left and the referee couldn’t find her whistle. On the other end, DeLise Williams rebounded a missed shot and was knocked out of bounds, which is a foul, except when it’s not. They immediately gave the ball to PBA, but Reynolds rightfully protested and after a lengthy discussion between the officials, the call was eventually overturned with 56.4 seconds left.
“They were gonna give them the ball after they tackled us,” Reynolds said.
Richardson got the ball inside and fought through a defender before what appeared to be another PBA foul. It was not called and she turned it over, giving the Sailfish the ball with just over 30 seconds left. They had two chances in the paint and came up empty on both before a jump ball was called with 9.3 left.
A missed jumper by Davis was rebounded by Williams, who was fouled. Amanda Allen got the ball in and the clock ran out on a nail-biter.
“It was a sloppy game and I thought our officials did a really good job right down to the last three minutes of the game,” said Reynolds. “They missed three or four calls in a row.”
For more info: Palm Beach Atlantic @ Florida Tech Box Score
The Panthers will be home again on Wednesday, hosting Sunshine State Conference foe Florida Southern.
“They are a good team, Reynolds said of the Moccasins. “They have the capability to be a top-25 team, easily.”
Wednesday’s Tip is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at the Clemente Center.