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Tampa Proves Too Much for Panthers

The Tampa Spartans got 20 points and 16 rebounds from Dori Nagy and Melijah Sullivan scored 20, as they rolled to a 62-42 victory over the Florida Tech Panthers on Wednesday, at the Clemente Center.

“I just thought they played really good defense,” said Panthers coach John Reynolds, speaking of Tampa. “They might be the best defensive team in the league. I think they lead in opponents points per game at 55 or so, and they held us to 42.”

“Tampa’s the most talented team in the league and they match that talent with their defensive effort,” he continued. “Their disciplined, they execute well and they don’t get rushed into stuff they don’t wanna take, and they go to their first and second option on every possession before someone takes a shot.”

That translated into a rough shooting night for the Panthers, who were 15-for-50 from the floor (30 percent). Florida Tech also turned the ball over 16 times, although they did force Tampa into 19.

Amanda Allen was the top scorer for Florida Tech, with nine points. November Morton had eight points and a team-leading four rebounds.

“Amanda played as hard as she could,” said Reynolds. “We ask Amanda to guard guys that aren’t for her, and her effort is there.”

The first quarter was even both in play and on the scoreboard. Morton hit a three to start the scoring, and Fanny Hakanson hit another with 3:18 left in the quarter, cutting Tampa’s lead to 11-8. After Aniquah Swan cut it to 11-10, Allen gave the Panthers a 13-11 lead with her first three of the night. Tampa would tie it at 13 with 20 seconds left in the quarter.

Florida Tech (8-9, 4-5 SSC) made three three-pointers in that opening quarter and would make only three more the rest of the game.

Another three by Allen would give the home team an 18-15 lead early in the second quarter, as the two teams went back-and-forth for much of the quarter until Tampa went on a 6-0 run with 2:15 to go. They led 29-23 until Makyla Daniels stopped the bleeding with a layup with nine seconds left, cutting the lead to 29-24.

Unfortunately for the Panthers, Kris Nelson had speed to burn with about nine seconds left. She took off from Tampa’s end and launched a running, NBA-range three that went down at the buzzer. That gave Tampa a 32-25 lead.

“You could feel the momentum change,” Reynolds said. “We gave up that three and gave them more confidence.”

Tampa (11-2, 8-0 SSC) started the third quarter on an 8-1 run, before Allen drained another three, making it 40-29. The Spartans kept it between 10-12 the rest of the quarter. Two free-throws by Morton at the end of the quarter made it 45-35.

The Spartans would put this one away early in the fourth, with a 7-0 run. Florida Tech would score just seven points in the quarter, and with that, Tampa remained undefeated in conference play.

For more info: Tampa @ Florida Tech Box Score

The Panthers will now enter their bye-week. They do not return to action until Wednesday, January 22 at Rollins. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. The next home game will be the following Saturday, January 25, against Saint Leo at 2:00 p.m.