Gracie Doane hit five of her last six free-throws in the final 1:01 Saturday, helping the Florida Tech Panthers beat Nova Southeastern 59-58 in a Sunshine State Conference tilt at the Clemente Center.
“Despite free-throws being the difference, Florida Tech coach John Reynolds was not pleased with his teams’ overall performance from the line, as they were 18-of-32 (56.3 percent) for the game.
“Down the stretch you make your free-throws, it’s not even a close game,” he said. “We don’t even have to go through that stress. Today we almost let it slip away because of free throws.”
Doane came in as an 88 percent free-throw shooter and missed the one late, as did Amanda Allen, who was 6-for-6 coming into this game.
Tereza Sedlakova led the Panthers with 16 points and nine rebounds. She was another one that Reynolds mentioned as far as the struggles from the free-throw line. She was 4-for-9 on Saturday. Doane finished with 14 points, including three first-half three-pointers.
Florida Tech (5-8, 1-4 SSC) started with a 6-0 run and led 6-1 early. Doane would hit her first three with 5:35 to go, making it a 9-3 game. Sedlakova would then go on a run of her own, scoring eight straight points, and putting her squad up 17-8 with 2:15 to go in the quarter.
Those would be the final points for the home team, as they held a 17-11 advantage after 10 minutes.
After two free throws by Sedlakova, Doane struck again from outside, giving the Panthers a 22-13 lead with 1:30 gone in the second quarter. She would hit her final three of the day 34 seconds later, stretching the Panthers lead to 25-15.
Nova Southeastern (7-6, 3-3 SSC) would close the gap to six 31-25, putting together a bit of a run at the end of the quarter.
The third quarter started with a basket by Aniquah Swan, putting the Panthers up eight, only to see them go cold. Nova would run off the next 14 points, including threes from Claire McMahon and Alison Huges. All of a sudden, a 33-25 FIT lead turned into a 39-33 deficit.
The Panthers chipped away and were only down 44-41, heading into the final stanza.
A bucket by Allen, along with a free-throw from Gudlaug Juliusdottir tied the game at 44 with 7:06 remaining in the game. Things would see-saw back-and-forth from there, before Doane hit her one of her final two free-throws to make it 58-56. Allen would sink a key free-throw with 6.9 remaining, giving the Panthers a three point advantage. That would be the difference, as Maria Bardeeva would hit a runner in the lane with 0.2 seconds left for Nova.
The Panthers defense deserves a lot of credit and Reynolds was quick to give it to them. “Our defense has gotten better every game, their talking, their communication have been better,” he said. “They beat us in every category, points in the paint, points off turnovers, second chance points and fast-break points, but we played good full-court defense. When we got them to turn it over that was the difference.”
For more info: Nova Southeastern @ Florida Tech Box Score
Now the Panthers will hit the road for a game Wednesday night at Saint Leo. The Lions are 6-8 overall and 1-5 in the conference. They lost to Embry-Riddle Saturday, 76–32. Wednesday’s game will tip off at 5:30 p.m.