Things looked bleak for the Florida Tech Panthers early on Wednesday, but they made a game of it before coming up on the short end of an 88-74 score against Palm Beach Atlantic at Rubin Arena.
The Sailfish (14-6, 7-5 SSC) had five guys in double figures led by Malek Barber, who finished with 19. Jules Jasmin had 18, Darhius Nunn finished with 16, Dan Largey had 13, and Justin Nichelson went for 11.
The Panthers (10-10, 4-8 SSC) who dropped the first meeting to the Sailfish back on December 4 by the score of 74-69 at the Clemente Center, gave their all again in this one, led by Derek Murphy’s 24 points. He came up short of a double-double, leading his squad with eight rebounds.
Florida Tech shot 30 percent in the first half (12-of-40, struggling mightily from three-point range, going just 2-for-16 (12.5 percent. They picked it up a bit in the second half, going 17-for-32 (53.13 percent), including 4-for-8 from three and 9-for-11 from the free-throw line.
The Panthers won the rebounding battle 41-37, with both teams turning the ball over 20 times.
Runako Ziegler finished with 17 points, and Sesan Russell came away with 11. The Panthers had the game tied in the early going 4-4, before the Sailfish reeled off nine straight points, going up 13-4 before a Murphy bucket made it 13-6.
The Sailfish led 20-11 but Mekhii Noble, Murphy, and two baskets by Ziegler closed the gap to 20-19. After a three by PBA, the Panthers closed it to one again, before Barber’s three made it 26-22. Russell’s three later in the half, cut PBA’s lead to 30-27 with 1:31 to go, before two free throws made it a five-point lead for the home team at the break.
Early in the second, both teams traded baskets, before Russell made it 35-32 PBA with 16:59 left. Free throws by Murphy cut the deficit to 42-40, before a three by Russell gave the visitors a 43-42 lead. Things went back-and-forth before Trey Schaneville drained a three to make it 48-47 in favor of Florida Tech with 12:14 left.
The Panthers were hurt moments later by a 10-2 PBA run to go up 60-52. They led 65-54 before Schaneville banged down another three to cut it to eight. They would cut it to eight one more time on a Ziegler basket with 5:31 left.
PBA got the lead back up to 11 before Ziegler and Schaneville each scored to cut it to seven 75-68 with 2:04 left. The deficit remained the same until the Sailfish went on a 7-0 run to end the game.
For more info: Florida Tech @ PBA Box Score
The Panthers are now 0-7 on the road. They will try to get their first victory away from the Clemente Center Saturday when they travel to Boca to face the Lynn Fighting Knights. That game will tipoff around 4:00 p.m.