For the second time in five days, the Florida Tech Panther Men were on the court against a Division I school. Saturday it was Georgia Tech and Wednesday, they went up against Florida Atlantic University in another exhibition. The Owls proved to be too much on this night, winning 98-52.
Florida Tech was 19-of-59 from the field, including 4-of-26 from three-point range. They went 10-of-17 from the free-throw line.
We’re just shooting the ball so poorly,” said Panthers Head Coach Billy Mims in his postgame interview with Jim Mitchell. “I thought our execution was a little bit better than Georgia Tech we got some better looks, but we still didn’t make the shots.”
Derek Murphy was the offense for the Panthers, scoring 29 points. He led the Panthers with six rebounds as well. No other Panther player scored more than five, with Dwayne Orija hitting that mark.
“Derek Murphy had an incredible performance,” said Mims. “We just gotta find some other offensive firepower.”
The Panthers were outrebounded 48-31, including 29-17 on the defensive side. A big reason for that disparity was that R.J. Coil was missing for the Panthers, still feeling under the weather. He played sparingly against Georgia Tech and not at all against Florida Atlantic.
“His presence on the floor is huge for us,” said Mims of Coil. “He took four shots at Georgia Tech and I think he made one free-throw. R.J., if he plays is gonna give us 10-12 rebounds. Believe it or not we missed him probably more defensively than offensively.”
The FIT offense was hurt by the absence of Valur Valsson in the first half as well, as he is nursing a sprained ankle. He did test it some in the second half, finishing with two points in 17 minutes. He did have two rebounds and an assist in that time.
The game was tied at four early, but the Owls went on a 10-0 run and they backed that up with an 8-2 run to make it 22-6. Murphy hit three consecutive three-pointers and Antonis Pefanis finished off an 11-2 run for the Panthers with his jumper, cutting the FAU lead to eight, 25-17.
The Owls answered with a 9-0 run and the Panthers were fighting an uphill battle from there, as they would score just three points in the final 8:37 of the half and trail 40-20 at the break.
Anthony Adger led FAU with 13 points at the half, hitting four of his six three-point shots. To their credit, Florida Tech held him to three points the rest of the way.
Murphy was 3-of-5 from behind the arc in the first half and led the Panthers with nine points.
The second half was close to start, but a 10-0 run made it 64-29 in favor of FAU. The Panthers did run off six straight, but it barely slowed down the home team, as they kept their foot on the gas, reeling off nine points and upping the lead to 73-36 with 9:20 to go.
FAU (1-0) outscored the Panthers 58-32 in the second half. Jailyn Ingram led the Owls with 21 points. They shot 53.4 percent from the floor, going 39-of-73.
Turnovers were a problem for the Panthers as well in this one, as they coughed it up 21 times. FAU had 15. The Panthers as a team had five assists and were outscored by the FAU bench 33-14.
Harry Craik gave the Panthers four points in nine minutes, as Mims got some guys in off the bench.
For more info: Florida Tech @ Florida Atlantic Box Score
Florida Tech will open their regular season on Friday, when they host the NCAA South Regional Tipoff Challenge at the Clemente Center. The Panthers will take the floor against Auburn-Montgomery shortly after 3:30 p.m., following Rollins and Benedict, who will get underway at 1:00 p.m.