For the second straight game the Panthers put up a heck of an effort, and for the second straight game, the Panthers were beaten by a ranked team. After losing to #14 Florida Southern 86-79 on Thursday, Tech gave #20 Embry-Riddle all they wanted in the first half on Saturday, before ultimately dropping a 92-79 decision.
Florida Tech was better from the field, shooting 47 percent (27-of-58) and 38 percent (11-of-29) from three, making two more than the Eagles did.
Derek Murphy led the Panthers with 22 points, while Valur Valsson had 15. Valsson had five three-pointers on the season coming into the game and hit five in this game alone. Sesan Russell finished with 12 points, including a 6-for-6 showing at the free-throw line. Trey Schaneville finished with nine points, all behind the arc.
Things started well for the Panthers with Russell and Valsson each hitting a three to give the Panthers an 8-2 lead. Hoops by Murphy and Nieja Jordan gave the Panthers a 12-8 lead heading into the first media timeout.
They would up the lead to 18-11 before a three by Schaneville got it to 10 with 11:15 to go. Valsson would drain another three later in the half to give the Panthers a 28-17 lead. A three by Schaneville made it 36-24 with 4:30 to go. That’s when things went south for the Panthers.
ERAU changed up their defense and the offense followed suit, going on a 12-1 run. The Panthers got only a free-throw by Murphy before the end of the half, and a 12-point lead was just one, as the Panthers went into the locker room with a 37-36 lead.
The second half was not kind to Florida Tech at all. ERAU started with two three-pointers, and the Panthers were down 42-37 with 19:12 left. Antonis Pefanis answered with a three a couple of minutes later to cut the ERAU lead to 46-42, but it only slowed what was a 15-7 run for the home team that put the Eagles up 51-44.
Embry-Riddle (12-2, 4-2 SSC) had 36 points in the first half and had 32 before there were nine minutes gone in the second half. It was too much for the Panthers to overcome. They were down 62-51 with 12:39 left, but a three by Valsson cut it to eight.
After the Eagles boosted the lead to 16, Valsson, Murphy and Valsson from three, cut it to eight, 70-62 with 9:30 left. Florida Tech would get it down to five (75-70) on a hoop by Mekhii Noble a few minutes later, but ERAU got it up to 14 with 32 seconds left.
For more info: Florida Tech @ Embry-Riddle Box Score
The Panthers have now dropped two straight and have fallen to 7-7 overall, and 1-5 in the conference. They will try to get back on Track Wednesday night January 8, when they host Eckerd College. The tip is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.