The Florida Tech Panthers saw a fourth-quarter comeback fall short Friday in a 67-59 loss to the New York Institute of Technology Bears in the opening round of the Florida Tech Classic.
The game tipped off at 10:00 a.m. as the Panthers welcomed school kids from around the area for Education Day at the Charles and Ruth Clemente Center.
Florida Tech (2-1) outscored the Bears 26-17 in the final 10 minutes, but it ended up being too little, too late, as the Bears hung on for the eight-point win.
Gracie Doane led the Panthers with 15 points, with the majority coming in that furious fourth-quarter rally, while Amanda Allen finished with 11. Florida Tech’s leading rebounder was Tereza Sedlakova with 10. Kailyn Ebb chipped in with eight boards.
“We scored 26 points in the fourth quarter, why weren’t we scoring 20 points a quarter getting to that point?” said Panthers Head Coach John Reynolds. “We were lazy, we were walking on offense, never came off any screens and the cutters were slow.”
Florida Tech missed their first three chances from the floor and was down 4-0 before Gudlaug Juliusdottir got inside and hit the first bucket with 8:24 to go. The game went back-and-forth for much of the quarter, with the Panthers getting a 7-6 lead on an Ebb basket with 2:37 to go.
NYIT would finish the quarter on a 5-0 run and lead 11-7 at the end of the quarter.
The Bears would cruise through the second quarter, doubling up the Panthers, 22-11. Julia Braungart hit a three to put the Bears up 16-9 and she drained another less than two minutes later, making it a 19-11 game with 6:32 to go in the half. That kicked off an 8-0 run for NYIT and they led 25-11.
Doane hit a three with 1:15 left in the half that made it 31-18 and the Bears would lead 33-18 at the halftime break.
Allen hit a three 52 seconds into the third quarter and hit two free throws moments later, cutting the lead to 33-23. From there, the Bears went on a 7-0 run, before Michaela Gelbaugh hit a shot with 4:30 to go, making it 40-25.
Doane would hit another three with 4:03 left, but the Bears went on another 6-0 run that was broken when Fanny Hakanson three-ball to make it 48-31. The Panthers would enter the final 10 minutes down 50-33.
Allen hit two threes in the first 3:21 of the fourth quarter and got the Panthers to within 13, 54-41.
hoops by Ebb, Juliusdottir, and Sedlakova made it 57-49 with 3:47 to go and Doane cut it to seven with another three with 1:57 left, making it 59-52. After a free-throw by each side, it was Doane again from downtown, with 1:08 left, making it 60-56.
The Panthers were forced to foul from there and the Bears made the free-throws count. Doane’s last three came with 22.6 seconds left, but the Bears were able to stave off the comeback from the charity stripe.
The Panthers were 9-for-27 from long range in this game, including 1-for-13 in the first half. They shot 6-for-32 from the field in the first half and ended up going 20-for-62 overall. They did win the battle on the glass, 46-37, but outside of that fourth quarter, the team struggled.
“I don’t think we were mentally ready to play today, to be honest with you,” said Florida Tech Head Coach John Reynolds. “We turned the ball over 20 times and we went over how they pursue the ball from behind and they had at least three steals that way. That’s called kinesthetic awareness and we don’t have it.”
For more info: NYIT @ Florida Tech Box Score
The Panthers will be right back on the floor Saturday for a noon tip against Flagler, who beat Rollins on Friday, 66-50.
They’re pretty darn good,” Reynolds said of Flagler. “I think they might be the best team in this tournament.”