The Florida Tech Panthers women’s basketball team took down the country’s 23rd-ranked team on Saturday, beating Tampa 51-44 at the Clemente Center. With the win, Florida Tech improved to 8-7 overall and 5-4 in Sunshine State Conference play.
“We just beat a really good basketball team and I just thought that was the most solid team effort we’ve had all season, said Panthers coach John Reynolds. “I think we got a solid effort from everybody on this team the last two or three days, they were loose in practice, they worked in practice and they had fun in practice,” he continued. “When you get a couple wins under your belt everybody comes to practice with a different attitude and a different mentality and we saw that today.”
DeLise Williams who had two points at halftime, finished with 15 to lead the home team. Tanease Richardson put up 13 points on 4-of-8 shooting and 4-for-4 from the charity stripe, while Amanda Allen had all 11 of her points in the first half, including eight of the Panthers 12 second-quarter points.
“She carried us in the first half,” Reynolds said of Allen. “She just carried us.”
The first quarter went back-and-forth early on, with Tampa draining a couple three’s and Allen hitting one for the Panthers about midway through the stanza. Tampa (12-4. 5-4 SSC) held a 14-10 lead at the end of the period.
The second period was dominated by the Panthers, who outscored the Spartans 12-7. After Tampa got their lead to 16-12, Allen hit a three with 5:48 to go, cutting it to one. Her layup with 3:55 to go put the Panthers up one. That didn’t last long, as Staja Tyghter hit a three for Tampa, putting the visitors up 19-17 with 2:58 to go.
Michaela Gelbaugh hit two free-throws to tie things at 19 before Faith Sanders gave Tampa the lead again on a layup with 2:01 left. That would be the last basket for a while, until Allen drained another three with just two seconds left, giving the Panthers a 22-21 lead headed to the locker room.
Richardson made her mark in the third quarter, hitting an early three and converting two free-throws with 5:37 to go, giving the home team a 27-23 lead. Tampa battled back and led 34-31 with 1:27 to go. Williams tied the game with 34 seconds left, banging home another three-ball and leaving just 10 minutes to decide a winner.
After Rachel Warden hit two free-throws to start the quarter for Tampa, Tereza Sedlakova went strong to the hoop and tied the game at 36. “That was one of the plays that turned the game for me,” said Reynolds. “I don’t think it was the biggest play, but when she put the ball on the floor and went strong to the basket and finished. First thing I thought of that was we got this game because that type of play is a play that says there’s no way you’re beating us… today,” he continued, Cause we’re gonna play this hard on every possession.”
With the game tied at 38 early in the fourth, Williams hit another three, giving the Panthers a 41-38 lead with 7:57 to go. She then used a nice up-and-under move to get a hoop and stretch the lead to 43-38. Tampa battled back and cut the Panthers lead to 46-44 with 1:35 left, but that was as close as they would get, as Williams and Richardson combined to score the final five-point from the free-throw line.
“We’re gonna win or lose with the ball in DeLise’s hands, period,” said Reynolds. “The ball is going to her and I don’t care if our opponents know it, we’re going to her.”
For more info: Tampa @ Florida Tech Box Score
Next up for the Panthers is a trip to Daytona Beach. “Now we gotta beat Embry-Riddle,” said Reynolds. “They’re like a little jackrabbit team, they get the ball down the dang floor.”
That game against the Eagles happens Wednesday, January 17th, on the road. The tip is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.