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Early Deficit Dooms Panthers

Donny Rieber Jr | Sports Lowdown Derek Murphy‘s 19 points led the Panthers on Saturday.

The Florida Tech men’s basketball team was digging themselves out of a hole all day on Saturday, and in the end, Tampa proved to be too much, downing the Panthers 81-63 at the Bob Martinez Athletics Center. 

Derek Murphy was the only Florida Tech player in double digits with 19 points. Darius Wright had nine and Anotonis Pefanis had eight.  

With this loss, the Panthers (8-14, 2-12 SSC) have now dropped four in a row and nine of their last 10. 

The Spartans came out firing and after Derek Murphy tied the game 2-2, the home team went on a 15-0 run and led 17-2 with just over six minutes gone in the game. A three by Murphy made it 17-5 and sparked an 8-0 Panthers run bookended by a three from Trey Schaneville, making it 17-10. Another three by Pefanis made it 20-13. 

As was the case most of this night, when the Panthers did something to get themselves back in the game, Tampa would answer and they did that with the Pefanis three, when Anthony Gamble hit one of his own, getting the lead back to 10. 

Tampa built the lead from there, going up by as many as 17 with 5:11 to go, 37-20. A 7-0 run by the Panthers again cut it to 10, highlighted by a three from Wright. Free throws by Wright later in the half, got the Panthers to within five, 39-34 with 2:27 left. Freddie Ibrahim’s free throws would give the Spartans a 41-34 lead at the break. 

Pefanis scored the first points of the second half 2:09 in and it was 41-36. For Tampa, it was Gamble to the rescue as he hit two threes in an 8-0 run from the Spartans, and just like that, it was a 49-36 game. 

Back to-back threes by Pefanis and Schaneville made it a 60-51 game with just over 10 minutes to go, but Tampa scored seven unanswered before Murphy’s three with 6:08 to go made it 67-54. A three by Chris Cummings stemmed another Tampa run, making it 75-59 with 3:01 to go. 

Mate Papai and Harry Craik scored the final points of the night for the Panthers, who ultimately fell by 18. 

For more info: Florida Tech @ Tampa Box Score 

The Panthers return home on Wednesday to take on Saint Leo. The game will tip at approximately 7:30 p.m.