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Schaneville Burns Saint Leo in OT Upset

In what will likely be considered the game of the year at the Clemente Center, the Florida Tech Panthers overcame a furious run by the Saint Leo Lions on Saturday to win a very memorable basketball tilt, 99-93 in overtime.

Trey Schaneville, a sophomore whose young career at Florida Tech is predicated on three points, whether it is kicking field goals for the Panthers football team in the fall, or knocking down threes at the Clemente Center for the basketball team in the winter, he does both very well. On Saturday, he was a marksman for the Panthers when it mattered most, knocking down the game-tying three with 5.3 seconds left in regulation, and hitting again from deep with 34.3 seconds left that iced the game for Florida Tech.

“I was sitting there actually praying at one time, out of a timeout I knelt down and was actually praying,” said Panthers coach Billy Mims. “I really thought our kids deserved this game. I didn’t wanna see them fight back, fight all night, play the way they did, and not finish this thing tonight. Maybe we got a little divine intervention, maybe my prayers were answered.”

A night that included a 49.3 percent effort shooting did not hurt either. That included a first half that saw Florida Tech go 18-for-33 overall (54.5 percent), including 6-for-12 (50 percent) from three-point range and five of five from the free-throw line.

The Panthers (10-9, 4-7 SSC) had five players in double figures on this night, led by Derek Murphy, who finished with 19 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists. That gives him seven double-doubles on the season.

Runako Ziegler added 18 points, going 6-for-10 from the floor, and dished out eight assists while pulling down four rebounds. Mekhii Noble had 17 points to go along with his eight rebounds, and Sesan Russell had 12 points, eight rebounds, and four helpers. Speaking of helpers Valur Valsson had three assists and chipped in 12 points.

Schaneville just missed a double-digit effort, but he was 3-for-4 from long range, including the two biggest of the night at key times. He finished with nine points.

Florida Tech won the rebounding battle convincingly, 41-31. They got big numbers off the bench as well, outscoring Saint Leo 34-13.

There was a point with 5:14 left in the second half, that Mims subbed Schaneville in for Ziegler and Schaneville looked for a three from the corner that ended up not panning out, so he didn’t take the shot. Mims swapped the two players immediately after that, but it was a key moment in the game because it was setting the Panthers up for what would ultimately happen about five minutes later.

“When I first took Nako out one of the players on the floor looked at me and said, ‘What are you doing, he’s three-for-three tonight’, Mims said. “But coaches look at the body of work and I got a great shooter sitting over there and I think if I can get him open, he’s gonna make that shot.” He would eventually make that shot, and one more.

Russell hit a three to start the game, but Saint Leo (13-6, 7-4 SSC) then went on an 8-0 run that included four points and a steal from Isaiah Hill, who led all scorers with 35 points. Kyran McClure finished with 21, while Ty Forman poured in 12.

The first half was pretty even most of the way. Murphy would hit a three to cut the Lions lead to 17-16 with 13:20 to go before Ziegler would give them the lead about a minute later. A three by Valsson would make it 23-17 with 11:32 to go before Murphy hit a three with 10:47 left to make it 26-20.

The Lions would eventually take a 35-34 lead on a three by McClure with 4:02 to go, but the Panthers closed out the half on a 12-3 run that included threes from Ziegler and Jordan. That gave the Panthers a 47-38 lead at the break.

Florida Tech upped their lead to 11 in the first 27 seconds of the second half, but Saint Leo chipped away to get it down to five twice in the first 4:35 of the second stanza. After a three from Valsson made it 56-50 with 14:31 left, the Panthers doubled the distance to 12 after a three by Ziegler with 10:50 to go.

Two free throws by Ziegler with 9:55 left made it 73-62. The Panthers were still up 11 with 6:56 left, thanks to a three by Jordan, giving the Panthers an 81-70 lead. Then the Lions went to work. They reeled off 15 consecutive points. Going up 85-81 before a layup by Valsson with 1:31 to go in regulation, cut it to 85-83.

A free-throw by Hill made it 86-83 with 1:01 to go, before Schaneville knocked down the big three with 5.3 seconds to go, ultimately sending this one to overtime.

Hill would get the Lions going in OT with a jumper and that was a key moment for Mims. “There’s an old saying, and my wife will quote this stat to me, that whoever scores first in overtime wins the game about 70 percent of the time,” said Mims. “My wife was probably hanging her head when they scored, thinking oh, there it goes. And I was thinking about that.”

That would set the stage for the first of two threes by Schaneville, coming with 4:32 to go, giving the Panthers an 89-88 lead. Free throws by Murphy made it 91-89 before McClure tied it. He would break that tie with his second consecutive layup. A jumper by Ziegler tied it at 93, before Schaneville brought the house down again with a clutch three, coming with 34.3 seconds to go.

That took the wind out of the Lions sails, and Mekhii Noble hit two free throws to seal it. “He went three for four and the two last ones he made gave us a five-point lead,” said Mims. “The two biggest free throws he’s made in his life.”

For more info: Saint Leo @ Florida Tech Box Score

Mims also gave credit to assistant coaches Joe Sanchez, Joey James, and Justin Sedlak for the work they did preparing the players for this contest.

“I thought this entire staff did as good a job as they could possibly do this week,” said Mims. “I’m blessed to have three great assistant coaches. They earned their keep this week, and did a fabulous job helping me do what we had to do to win this game.”

The Panthers will now hit the road for two games next week. They travel to West Palm Beach to take on Palm Beach Atlantic on Wednesday at 7:30, and head to Boca Raton on Saturday, February 1 for a 4:00 p.m. tip at Lynn.