It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t easy, but the Florida Tech women’s basketball team picked up their first conference victory on Thursday, beating Palm Beach Atlantic 64-60 at the Clemente Center.
Fanny Hakanson’s three-point play with 43.6 left in regulation gave the Panthers a 62-60 lead, and November Morton salted it away moments later from the free-throw line.
“Right before the game I said it’s a conference game and it’s gonna come down to one or two possessions,” said Panthers coach John Reynolds. “It’s a game of runs and we gave ourselves some space a couple of times, but it’s a conference team and they’re not gonna go away.”
The Panthers (6-3, 1-1 SSC) had four players in double figures, led by Aniquah Swan’s 19. She was the top rebounder as well, pulling down a career-high 14.
“I thought Aniquah played really big when we needed her tonight,” Reynolds said.
Morton, who was playing in just her second game back after an injury, scored 13 points. Hakanson and Severine Uggen each had 11.
The game of runs Reynolds mentioned started early, as the Panthers jumped out to a 7-0 lead, only to see PBA tie it at seven. A three by Fanny Paulin with 5:08 left in the first quarter made it 10-7 Panthers. A three by Sia Williams of PBA gave her team a 14-13 lead before Morton’s three gave the Panthers a 16-14 lead. Williams hit a jumper with 10 seconds left, giving the Sailfish an 18-17 lead.
Florida Tech was lucky to be down just one, considering they shot 5-of-18 (27.8 percent) from the floor and 2-of-8 (25 percent) from three-point range.
“The first quarter we were horrendous from the floor,” said Reynolds. “For us, I think that’s two bad shooting games in a row that we did not shoot the ball well, but when you can shoot that poorly and come out with a win, you’ll take it.”
It took 2:03 for the first basket of the second quarter, scored by Swan. Her three-point play moments later, gave the Panthers a 22-18 lead. They would lead by nine after Hakanson laid one in with 4:16 to go. It was all part of a 20-6 run, helping the Panthers lead 37-28 at the break.
To their credit, PBA (1-7, 0-2 SSC) started the third quarter with nine straight points and tied things up at 37. Things went back-and-forth for much of the quarter before Uggen and Scott hit back-to-back shots to make it 49-44. A late basket by PBA cut the lead to 49-46 as the quarter came to an end.
A three by Uggen with 8:23 to go in the game gave the Panthers a 53-46 lead, only to see the Sailfish battle back and take a 54-53 lead with 6:21 left. Uggen would strike from deep again, tying the game at 56.
Williams would give the Sailfish a 60-59 lead with 1:47 to go, before Hakanson hit a jumper that she was fouled on, to make it a one-point Panther lead. She would then hit a free-throw to make it 62-60.
“Fanny played well,” and she was our best defender tonight,” said Reynolds. “She told me in practice yesterday that she’s a better defender than I give her credit for, and she showed it tonight. She convinced me she needs to stay on the floor.”
For more info: Palm Beach Atlantic @ Florida Tech Box Score
The Panthers continue their homestand Saturday with a 5:30 p.m. game against the Lynn Fighting Knights in another SSC matchup.