Featured photo credit: Jerry Durney – Florida Tech Sports Communications
Florida Tech Women’s basketball avenged Wednesday’s loss to Barry in a big way on Saturday, beating the visiting Buccaneers 76-66 on the new court at the Clemente Center.
The Panthers (2-2) had five players in double figures and used a huge fourth quarter to earn the victory, outsourcing the Bucs 31-17. Freshman Lina Stranger-Johannessen had her breakout game for the Panthers in this one, scoring a career-high 18 points. That included hitting three consecutive three-pointers in the fourth quarter, and finishing with four in the final 10 minutes. She also tied with Fanny Hakanson for the team lead in rebounds with eight.
“Fanny H. is our unquestioned leader, I trust her and her teammates trust her,” said Panthers head coach John Reynolds. “I’m not gonna stress over offensive production, once everything starts clicking on all cylinders Fanny is going to be fine. We know what she’s capable of.”
Stranger-Johannessen was 6-for-8 for-8 from the field, including 6-for-7 from long distance. Zoe Murphy and Fanny Paulin both finished with 14 points, each hitting three of their eight three-pointers. Hakanson and Severine Uggen each had 10 points.
“We are still trying to find our basketball legs,” said Reynolds. “Sev hasn’t reached her potential yet, just like Fanny, but once they do we can present just as much of a challenge to any of our opponents as they can to us.”
“This is a very unselfish team,” Reynolds continued. “They are good teammates and they were happy for the players that had a breakout game. You can’t be a good teammate on the floor if you’re not a good teammate off the floor. That is not a slight to any of our past teams, but it shows just how many personalities you have on a team and what happens when they all come together as a team.”
Florida Tech was 25-for-69 as a team from the field, shooting 36.2 percent.
After that game on Wednesday that saw the Panthers take 45 three-pointers and make nine, head coach John Reynolds said he was okay with his team taking that many, and said they passed up a few. On Saturday, the home team showed why their coach has so much confidence in them, drilling 17-of-45 threes, a 40.5 percent clip.
“Some people questioned the number of threes we were taking, and I don’t even think we maxed out on that yesterday,” said Reynolds. “We have four or five kids that can shoot the three and I wouldn’t be surprised if we make 20 in a game this year.”
Paulin scored the first five points of the game for the Panthers as things were tightly contested at the outset. Barry took advantage of four Florida Tech turnovers, sparking an 11-0 run. They led 18-7 before a three from Paulin made it an eight-point game just as the first quarter was coming to an end.
Stranger-Johannessen’s three cuts it to five to start the second, but Barry’s 15-2 run got the lead up to 34-18. A three by Murphy out of a timeout was followed by a Stranger-Johannessen triple and just like that, it was 34-26. Barry did not score in the final 3:04 before halftime.
“We didn’t roll over,” Reynolds said. “We got down big and were able to fight back. “We always have to have people willing to come off the bench and we had that yesterday. Lina got more time because she was playing so well, and the people off the bench did what we ask of them.”
Barry (1-1) got on the board first in the third but the Panthers reeled off 10 straight points including consecutive threes from Paulin and Hakanson, tying the game at 36. Murphy’s three-ball with 5:43 left in the quarter gave Florida Tech their first lead of the game, 41-40. Barry would bounce back and lead 49-45 as the teams headed into the fourth.
Murphy, a 5’7″ freshman has come up big in these first four games. “I think Zoe has proven she’s a real competitor,” said Reynolds. “She’s small in stature but not lacking in heart.”
Murphy would start the quarter with a three to make it 49-48 and the Panthers would get back-to-back threes from Stranger-Johannessen and Uggen to make it 54-49. After Barry cut it to 56-53 Stranger-Johannessen would drain consecutive shots from behind the arc, making it 62-53. After Barry’s Harriett Swindells answered, Lina would do it again, giving the Panthers a 65-56 lead. After a Barry bucket, Uggen struck for five straight points, and the Panthers lead 68-58. The game finished from the free-throw line and the Buccaneers finished 1-for-8 from the field.
Florida Tech won the rebounding battle 43-36 and held an 18-8 advantage in second-chance points. They also got the upper hand on fast-break points 21-13.
For more info: Barry @ Florida Tech Box Score
The Panthers will make their third trip of the season to Florida Southern on Wednesday, February 17. The game is scheduled to get underway at 6:00 p.m.
“The staff at all of these schools have done such a great job giving us a safe environment to play in,” said Reynolds. “Southern, Barry, and of course our home court. It hasn’t been easy for anyone, but the NCAA gave us a year of eligibility back, so I have told our kids we potentially get 12 exhibition games this season and we get to see just how good we can be.”