The Eckerd Tritons (8-4, 4-2 SSC) came into the Clemente Center averaging 74.4 points. That leads the Sunshine State Conference. On Wednesday night, Florida Tech held them well below that as the Panthers came away with a 56-47 win at the Clemente Center.
This was not a pretty basketball game, but it was a win and gives the Panthers a 4-3 record in the conference while pushing their overall record to 8-7.
“I’ll take an ugly win any night,” said Panthers coach John Reynolds after the game. “An ugly win is a lot better than an ugly loss for sure.
This was a low-scoring affair, but it ended up being a good team effort for Florida Tech. They got 17 points and three rebounds from November Morton, leading all scorers. Gudlaug Juliusdottir had 12 points and six rebounds, while Fanny Hakanson added 10 points and pulled down seven boards.
Florida Tech shot 36.4 percent (20-of-55) from the floor and hit eight of their 23 three-point attempts, good for 34.8 percent. They were also eight of 10 from the free-throw line, with most of those coming down the stretch.
Eckerd is not only the top-scoring team in the Sunshine State Conference, but they also lead the league in field goal percentage and three-point field goal percentage. Wednesday, those numbers took a huge hit. Besides going 20-of-60 from the floor, they were only 5-for-26 from long range (19.2 percent).
“We haven’t played good defense all year,” said Reynolds. “Tonight, we did. We also rebounded well, getting 36, and we got them when we needed them.”
Amanda Allen tied the game 4-4 with 8:15 to go, and the Panthers didn’t score again until the 5:28 mark. Luckily for them, Eckerd didn’t score either. A three by Morton put the Panthers up 9-4 with 5:01 left. Florida Tech would struggle again for a stretch but did lead 13-9 at the end of one.
Hakanson got the first points of the second quarter, draining a three 2:01 in, making it 16-9. Tech would score eight points the rest of the quarter, with three of those coming on a three by Allen with 1:17 to go. The home team would lead 24-19 at the break.
The third quarter got off to a horrendous start for Florida Tech. The Tritons closed the gap to 24-23 before Juliusdottir knocked down a three with 4:23 left in the quarter. It was the first points in the stanza for the Panthers and gave them a 26-23 advantage.
Morton then hit a jumper and a three, giving her team a 31-26 lead with 2:56 left. Two free-throws closed out a seven-point individual run for her and gave the Panthers a 33-26 lead. Juliusdottir would add a bucket to make it a seven-point game heading to the fourth quarter.
Juliusdottir not only finished the third quarter with a basket, but she also scored the first points of the fourth for Florida Tech, upping the lead to 39-30 forty seconds into the quarter.
After Eckerd cut it to 39-32, Allen, Hakanson, and Severine Uggen hit all hit three’s on consecutive possessions for Florida Tech, upping a tenuous seven-point lead to 14, 48-34 with 7:21 to go.
Another scoring drought by Florida Tech allowed the Tritons to cut it to seven with 4:23 to go. The Panthers’ next bucket after the Uggen three was Morton’s three-ball with 4:12 to go, that made it 51-41. Free throws widened the Panthers’ winning margin down the stretch.
For more info: Eckerd @ Florida Tech Box Score
“I thought our kids did a really good job of playing team basketball tonight,” Reynolds said. “It’s been a while since I’ve been able to say that.”
The Panthers hit the road Saturday, taking on Nova Southeastern in Fort Lauderdale. That game will get underway at 2:00 p.m.