Donny Rieber Jr | Sports Lowdown Valur Valsson – Photo: Sports Lowdown

The Embry-Riddle Eagles pulled off an 86-78 victory over the Florida Tech Panthers in men’s basketball on Wednesday. The loss was the seventh straight for the Panthers and their 13th in the last 15 games. 

Derek Murphy scored 14 of his 21 points in the second half, but in the end it just wasn’t enough. He added a team-high eight rebounds to lead the Panthers, who shot 29-of-74 from the floor, a 39.2 percent clip.  

The Panthers (8-17, 2-14 SSC) were in the game for much of the first half, helped by nine three pointers. In the second half, they struggled behind the arc, hitting just one of their 13 attempts. 

Sesan Russell, who has been a spark down the stretch for the Panthers was the man keeping the Panthers in this game in the early going. He was 3-for-4 behind the arc in the first five minutes, helping the Panthers get out to a 11-9 lead.  

Unfortunately, Russell would be held in check after his quick start, scoring just two of his 18 points in the second half. 

A three by Valur Valsson gave the Panthers a 14-11 lead at the first media timeout. Valsson would make two threes in the game, finishing with eight points and eight assists. 

Russell made another three with 13:52 to go, making it 17-13, before the Eagles battled back to tie it. Consecutive threes by Antonis Pefanis would help the Panthers get out to a six point lead, only to see Embry-Riddle tie it again. They would then go on a run that would see them go up 38-31, but Pefanis would later get the Panthers back in it with another three, making it 40-36. 

The Eagles (12-17, 5-13 SSC) would go up 49-40, but buckets by Russell and Pefanis (at the buzzer) cut the Panthers deficit to 49-44 at the half. 

Embry-Riddle’s lead ballooned to 11 2:36 into the second half, but the Panthers fought back to get it down to six with 15:50 to go, as a Pefanis bucket made it 59-53. The Eagles would get their footing back, upping their lead to 72-57 with 6:59 to go. 

After a three by Elijah Jenkins gave the Eagles a 78-66 lead with 3:51 to go, the Panthers went on a 6-0 run, capped by free-throws by Murphy. He would trade baskets with Chris Murray, making 82-76 with 49.7 seconds left, but the Panthers were forced to foul from there and the Eagles hung on for the victory. 

For more info: Florida Tech @ Embry-Riddle Box Score 

The Panthers return home Saturday to host Lynn. The game will tip off at around 4:00 p.m., following the women’s contest. 

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