The Florida Tech Panthers got a huge win on Wednesday, beating the Barry Buccaneers 60-45 in a Sunshine State Conference women’s showdown.
“It broke a four-game losing streak,” said Panthers coach John Reynolds. “Three of the teams that beat us in that streak, we had already beaten. You gotta get a wake-up call at some point and at this time of the year every game you play is like the first round of the NCAA tournament, you’re not making the tournament unless you can put a string of wins together.”
DeLise Williams led the Panthers with 18 points and Markeema Crawford scored 10, while Kailyn Ebb chipped in with eight points and eight rebounds. Tereza Sedlakova also had eight.
The defense came up big in this one as well, with Florida Tech forcing 18 turnovers and turned them into 19 points. Barry scored their first points with 6:33 left in the first quarter when Elin Ekdahl hit a three to close the gap to 4-3. After Gracie Doane hit a three to make it 7-3, Barry answered with a three by Ida Andersson with 4:48 to go, making it 7-6. They would take the lead moments later on a bucket from Stephane Granada.
Amanda Allen put the Panthers back on top 12-10 after she hit a three with 1:24 to go in the first, but Granada’s basket with less than three seconds to go, tied it at 12 after 10 minutes of play.
The early portion of the second quarter went back-and-forth with Ebb making two free-throws and giving FIT a 17-16 lead with 7:31 left in the half. Williams would then make a free-throw and a three-pointer, extending the Panthers lead to 21-16.
Barbara Cousino’s three-ball with 3:11 to go cut the lead to two, but the Panthers ended the half on a 6-0 run and led 29-21 at the break.
The Buccaneers (15-10, 8-9 SSC) came out firing to start the second half, with Andersson and Granada hitting consecutive threes and forcing Panthers coach John Reynolds to call a timeout with his team up 29-27. Florida Tech to their credit didn’t panic. A basket by Ebb and a three from Allen highlighted a 7-0 run made and it 36-27.
The Panthers (10-13, 7-10 SSC) kept the pressure on and Williams capped the third quarter with a basket giving the Panthers a 42-31 lead with 1.4 left on the clock.
It took just 3:48 for the Panthers to hit the half-century mark, with Crawford sinking two free-throws. An 8-0 run by the Bucs cut the FIT lead to 50-43 with 4:13 left in the contest, but the Panthers finished with a 10-2 run, getting most of those from the charity stripe and won this one, going away.
Florida Tech only shot 18-of-59, (30 percent) from the field. That included just 4-of-21 from three-point range). The big surprise in this game was the Panthers success at the free-throw line. They were 20-for-24 (83.3 percent) on this night, which is a huge improvement over the struggles they’ve had for much of this season.
“If you make free-throws, rebound the ball and defend, you have a chance to be in every game,” said Reynolds. “We didn’t shoot the ball well, but we did those things and held Barry to 45 points. If you can hold a team under 50 in our league, you have a chance of winning that game.”
For more info: Barry @ Florida Tech Box Score
The Panthers are down to the final three games of the regular season and the next of those comes Saturday on the road at Palm Beach Atlantic.
“Tonight was great,” Reynolds said. “But if we don’t win on Saturday, then tonight’s effort really won’t amount to nothing because for us to continue our season past the last regular season game we gotta get that mentality and that focus now, and then we gotta be able to ride it into our conference tournament.”
Saturday’s pivotal game tips off at 2:00 p. m. at Rubin Arena in West Palm Beach.