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Saint Leo Slips Past Panthers

The Florida Tech Panthers lost a key conference game on Saturday, dropping a 66-60 decision to Saint Leo in a women’s basketball battle at the Clemente Center. It was the fourth straight loss for Florida Tech, who fell to 8-11 overall and 4-7 in the Sunshine State Conference.

November Morton led the Panthers with 13 points, while Fanny Paulin and Fanny Hakanson each had 12. Hakanson added six assists to lead the team.

“She did what she does,” said Panthers coach John Reynolds of Hakanson. “She had six assists and only turned the ball over once. We took care of the ball we just didn’t shoot the ball well.”

The Panthers were 24-for-62 from the field (38.7 percent), which included an 8-for-26 showing from three-point range. There was a huge disparity at the free-throw line as the Panthers were 4-of-5, while Saint Leo went 17-for-20.

“It’s hard to overcome a game, and this isn’t a critique on officials, I just want to make that clear, but when one team is 17-for-20 and the other is 4-for-5…,” said Reynolds. “Now, I can’t make comments about what’s going on at the other end of the floor, but I can certainly see what’s right in front of me. So, it seemed to me what they let go at one end, they called at the other end. That’s all. I think we’ve gotta get some consistency there.”

Amanda Allen had six rebounds to pace the Panthers, who were beaten 30-28 on the boards.

“Amanda really struggled in this game,” Reynolds said. “She does a lot of good things, she talks, she plays hard, but she was 1-for-10 from the floor. We can’t have one of our starters shoot 10 percent in a conference game and win a game.”

Florida Tech got down early in this one but was able to battle back. The Lions started on an 8-0 run and after a three by Hakanson, ripped off five more to go up 13-3. They would stretch the lead to 17-5 before a three by Severine Uggen. Back-to-back threes by Morton made it a 21-14 game at the end of the first quarter.

“I thought we played hard today, but in the first quarter Saint Leo was hot,” said Reynolds. “As hot as I’ve seen any team all year. They were 7-for-9 from the floor by the first timeout and they made a free-throw.”

A 7-0 Florida Tech run started the second quarter and tied the game at 21. Saint Leo would spring out to a 28-23 lead before Paulin and Hakanson drained consecutive threes to give the Panthers a 29-28 lead with 3:36 left in the quarter.

Saint Leo (9-10, 5-6 SSC) would regain the lead moments later and a late three by Lenise Santiago would give the Lions a 35-31 lead at halftime.

Saint Leo led by as many as six early in the third, but Florida Tech would go on an 8-0 run, grabbing a 42-40 lead after Morton’s jumper with 5:53 left in the third. Saint Leo controlled much of the back half of the quarter and would lead 52-46 heading into the final 10 minutes.

The visitors would get their lead up to eight in the early stages, but Florida Tech battled back as Uggen and Paulin went back-to-back from long range to cut the Saint Leo lead to 59-58 with 4:01 to go.

It was 63-58 in favor of the visitors before Paulin’s bucket cut the lead to three with 1:25 to go.

With a minute left and the score still 63-60, there was a missed three by the Lions and while Casey O’Shaughnessy was trying to secure the rebound, she tumbled to the floor and let go of the ball to break her fall. Instead of calling a travel, the officials awarded Saint Leo a timeout, and Saint Leo won the game from the free-throw line.

“One thing these players need to understand is how important certain games are,” Reynolds said. “We just lost a tiebreaker to Saint Leo now, so instead of being 1-1, we’re 0-2 against them now.”

“I’m not sure we have everybody all in and you could see that by the limited rotations today,” he continued. “The truth of the matter is I should’ve started Sev (Uggen) because she can stretch them out a bit more.”

For more info: Saint Leo @ Florida Tech Box Score

Next up for the Panthers is a road game against Palm Beach Atlantic on Wednesday. After the praise he heaped on Uggen in the postgame, don’t be surprised if Reynolds makes that switch to Uggen in the starting lineup as soon as that game. Tipoff in West Palm Beach is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.