The Florida Tech Panthers visited the Eckerd Tritons Saturday, playing their second straight game without R.J. Coil and held their own, leading at halftime, before ultimately fading in the second half and dropping an 87-77 decision.
Derek Murphy finished one rebound shy of a double-double, going for 18 points and nine boards. Freshman Sesan Russell continues his hot start with the Panthers putting up 18 of his own, to go along with six rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Trey Schaneville and Antonis Pefanis each finished with 11 points. Schaneville finished 3-for-5 behind ther arc, and added three rebounds.
Florida Tech (8-11, 2-9 SSC) were 23-of-50 from the field (46 percent), including 12-of-29 (41.4 percent) from three-point range. The Trtitons had four players in double figures, led by Drushaun Mclaurn’s 22. They shot 48.6 percent from the field, including going 21-of-39 in the decisive second half.
Murphy got the Panthers off on the right foot, drilling a three 16 seconds in. Schaneville’s three with 3:29 gone by made it 7-3. Russell’s three with 14:46 to go was good enough to put the Panthers up 12-5.
The Tritons (15-4, 8-3 SSC) came back to score seven straight and tie the game at 12. Schaneville’s three with 12:06 left in the half gave the Panthers a 16-12 lead, but the Tritons reeled off 15 straight points and led 27-16. Murphy did hit two free throws to stop the bleeding, but the Panthers went almost six minutes without a field goal before Antonis Pefanis laid one in to make it 30-20.
It is not often you see a 15-0 run by both teams in a half, but that’s what happened on the heels of that Pefanis bucket. Valsson scored eight of 10 points for the Panthers in that run and they were down 30-28 when Eckerd called timeout with 3:44 to go in the half. Two free-throws by Pefanis and a three by Russell completed the 15-0 run. Florida Tech ended the half with a 17-2 run and led 35-32 at the break.
Florida Tech was 10-of-23, (43.5 percent) from the field in that first half, including 7-of-19 (36.8 percent) from behind the arc. Valsson’s eight points led FIT in scoring. Unfortunately, the Tritons did not allow Valsson to get a point in the second half.
Eckerd started the second half on a 7-0 run, but Schaneville quited the crowd with his third three of the day, to make it 39-38. Eckerd got the lead back to four, but Russell’s three cut it to 44-43. Neija Jordan tied the game at 48 with 11:08 to go.
After the Panthers got as close as 53-51, Myron Hagins three made it 56-51 and kicked off a 10-2 run and all of a sudden, the Panthers were down 63-53. Marquis Gilbert built the Eckerd lead to 73-57 with 4:24 to go. The Panthers did cut the lead to 10 when Chris Cummings got a steal and a bucket with 3.6 seconds left, accounting for the final margin.
For more info: Florida Tech @ Eckerd Box Score
The Panthers next game will be at home against the Barry Buccaneers. Tip will be shortly after 4:00 p.m., following the women’s game.