Derek Murphy was not bothered by the Panthers bye week, as he scored 21 points and pulled down 13 rebounds in an 87-67 loss to Rollins on Wednesday night.
This was the sixth double-double of the season for Murphy, who leads the Sunshine State Conference in scoring. Sesan Russell was the only other Panther in double figures with 15. Trey Schaneville and Mekhii Noble finished with nine each.
Florida Tech (9-9, 3-7 SSC) went 24-for-64 from the field, good for 37.5 percent. The Tars were 28-for-60, converting on 46.7 percent of their shots. The Panthers were outrebounded 40-37, but they had more points off turnovers 14-8, and more second-chance points, 17-10. Points in the paint were even at 30.
Russell hit twice from downtown to give the Panthers an early 6-3 lead, but Rollins went on an impressive 12-0 run that included back-to-back threes by Hutton Yenor and Kyle Marion. Murphy’s first points stopped the bleeding with 11:33 to go, making it 15-8. He would then hit a three to make it a four-point game. Murphy’s jumper moments later made it 19-15, before a 10-4 Tars run made it 29-19 with 6:03 to go.
A three by Schaneville with 3:55 left made it 35-24, but Rollins rolled to a 44-31 halftime lead.
Valur Valsson, who did not play in the Panthers win over Tampa last Wednesday, hit a three to make it 49-36 early in the second half. Yenor would hit another three and follow that with a layup to make it 65-47 with 11:22 left in the game.
Valsson was the Panthers leading assist man with six. According to floridatech.com, Val is now 24 assists away from setting a new school record. We will be following that over the Panthers’ final 10 games.
Murphy would put an end to that with a dunk, only to see a three by Will Erickson, to make it 68-49. Erickson would bang down another long ball moments later, making it 71-51 with 9:01 left. Things went back-and-forth for a bit before another Schaneville three made it 78-63 with 4:22 to go.
The Tars would go on a 9-0 run to make it 87-63 before Mate Papai and Noble scored the final four points of the game for the Panthers.
For more info: Florida Tech @ Rollins Box Score
The Panthers return home this Saturday to take on the Saint Leo Lions in the Coaches vs. Cancer Suits & Sneakers Game. The coaching staffs of both Florida Tech and Saint Leo will wear sneakers with their suits during the game to raise awareness for the disease. Coaches across the country will be doing the same.
Tipoff is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. at the Clemente Center.