The Florida Tech Panthers got their first Sunshine State Conference win on Saturday, beating Lynn 88-81 at the Clemente Center. It was a historic night in Panther land, as Derek Murphy scored 23 points, including his 1,000th career point with 8:58 to go in the second half.
“His Twitter handle is @grindhardmurph, and that’s what he’s done for five years here,” said Panthers head coach Billy Mims. “I love coaching him and I’ve really loved watching Derek Murphy mature over his five years as a player and as a young man.”
Murphy had 13 rebounds to go along with his 23 points, and he picked up three assists. Congratulations to Murphy on his milestone.
Florida Tech sophomore Sesan Russell led all scorers with 36 points. He was 10-of-14 from the field, including 4-of-6 from three-point range, and topped it off by hitting 12-of-13 from the charity stripe. Russell, who usually plays the wing, was at the point in this game for the first time, with Valur Valsson feeling under the weather and unable to play.
“This was a big game and I felt our back was against the wall,” said Mims. “I needed some strong leadership, and I told Sesh, ‘I am putting the ball in your hands’.”
The move paid off early, as the Panthers were down 18-13, he went on a 12-point individual scoring run and gave the Panthers a 25-21 lead. Murphy would hit a three on the next possession, pushing the lead to five. Mekhii Noble got a bucket, and the foul to make it 31-25, and Murphy followed that with a dunk. Russell would slam one home with 2:34 to go in the half, and the Panthers led 39-34 at the break.
Noble too a shot to the face 3:05 into the second half and went down hard. He did walk off under his own power but did not return to the game. He finished with five points, two rebounds and a block in just under 11 minutes.
After Lynn cut the lead to nine as couple times, Russell hit a three with 5:57 to go, putting his team up 69-56. Jalen Hodges made it 51-38 with a highlight-reel reverse jam with 14:39 to go.
“I can’t wait to see it on video, I’m gonna watch that tomorrow,” said Mims. “That was an ESPN SportsCenter Top 10 Play of the Day.”
👀 AT #0 JALEN HODGE’S RIDICULOUS REVERSE ALLEY OOP SLAM! #GoPanthers #Relentless #SCTop10 #SportsCenterTop10 #SportsCenter #AlleyOop #Dunk@sctop10 @ESPNSCTop10 @SportsCenter @ESPNAssignDesk @espn @D2SSC @FloridaTechMBB @FloridaTech pic.twitter.com/KFvJFLowjW
— Florida Tech Athletics (@FT_Athletics) December 8, 2019
Lynn did get the deficit to six, 61-55 before Russell went on another 8-0 solo run, backed up by a Trey Schaneville three-ball. That put the Panthers up 72-56 with 5:21 to go. The Fighting Knights took a chunk out of the lead, getting it down to six with 2:08 left, but Murphy hit a three, and the home team hung on from there.
For more info: Lynn @ Florida Tech Box Score
The Panthers enter finals week with a 5-4 record, including 1-2 in the conference. They will travel to Barry on December 16, for a 7:30 showdown with the Buccaneers.