The Eckerd Tritons put an end to Florida Tech’s five-game winning streak Saturday, with an emphatic 84-63 win at the Clemente Center. It was a statement game from the Tritons who won the conference last season and went to the Sweet 16.
“Their supposed to be one of the best teams in the league and we’re one of the youngest teams in the league, and that’s what it looked like today, and unfortunately, we weren’t up to the match,” said Panthers coach Billy Mims, in his postgame interview with Jim Mitchell. “We played a more physical, veteran team than we were tonight and we didn’t shoot the ball as well as we’re capable of, and I think a lot of that was the physicality of Eckerd’s defense, they pushed us out of things we wanted to do.”
To that end, the Panthers were 23-of-55 from the floor, shooting 43 percent. That includes an 8-for-23 performance from three-point range. The Panthers did shoot 75 percent from the foul line (9-for-12), but they did not shoot a single free-throw for the first 31 minutes of this contest.
“We got 12 free-throws, but all 12 came when the game was basically over,” said Mims. “That hurt us a lot.”
The Panthers (5-2, 0-1 SSC) got 19 points from Antonis Pefanis and a double-double from R.J. Coil, who finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds. He was 7-for-7 from the floor and 1-for-1 behind the arc. Derek Murphy got into early foul trouble, but still managed 11 points and five rebounds.
Eckerd (7-1, 2-0 SSC) had five guys in double figures, led by Marquis Gilbert’s 24. Kristiyan
Stavrev added 15 and the two combined for 11 of the 13 three-point baskets that the Tritons made.
Florida Tech led early, but Eckerd got up 15-11, but a Pefanis three with 5:54 gone off the clock made it a 15-14 game. Eckerd led again 21-16, but FIT battled back to tie it at 21 on another Pefanis three with 7:28 to go in the half.
Gilbert answered with two consecutive threes and Marco Behori’s three made it 30-23. The Tritons would go to the locker room with a seven-point cushion, 37-30.
Florida Tech got it down to five with the first bucket of the second half and kept the deficit there for the first four minutes of the second half, but a 12-0 run made it 54-37. When all was said and done, it was a 20-5 run for Eckerd and they cruised from there.
With 4:18 to go, the Tritons hit their high-water mark of 25 points, 79-54 and the Panthers would only get it down to 21 before this one was over.
“Eckerd had 22 points off our 17 turnovers,” said Mims. “They only turned it over 10 times and we got 12 points, we had to work for everything we got.”
For more info: Eckerd @ Florida Tech Box Score
The Panthers will look to bounce back on Saturday, December 8th, when they welcome Tampa to the Clemente Center. The game will tip shortly after 4:00 p.m.