Header Photo: L-R: Fanny Paulin, Fanny Hakanson, Lina Stranger-Johannessen, Severine Uggen // Credit: Florida Tech Athletics
The Florida Tech women’s basketball team saw their first action of the new season Friday, beating the Chilean National Team 70-53 in an exhibition game at the Clemente Center.
The Panthers led this game by 19 at one point in the first half but made a charge in the second half, getting it down to five. The Panthers took control late, to take the 17 point victory.
“We haven’t had a chance to scrimmage yet so we’ve only played ourselves,” Panthers coach John Reynolds told Florida Tech play-by-play man Jim Mitchell after the game. “These guys (Chile) have already played six games and I thought they were pretty good. I thought they were physical and I thought if we pressured them we could get them to turn the ball over and we did.”
At one point in the third quarter the Panthers had gotten 25 points off 20 Chile turnovers. The national team had 31 total turnovers late in the fourth, while the Panthers had 17. By the end of the game Florida Tech had 30 points off turnovers to Chile’s five.
The Panthers were 13-for-16 from the free-throw line but got outrebounded 37-30. “They were bigger and stronger,” Reynolds said of Chile. “They got to the basket when they needed to.”
Senior Fanny Hakanson had an early three to put the Panthers up 3-2 and junior Severine Uggen hit two from long range to give the Panthers an 11-7 lead. Senior newcomer Hannah Roney had one as well, giving the Panthers a 14-8 lead.
After Chile closed the gap to 14-12, sophomore Lina Stranger-Johannessen hit a three to make it 17-14. A Chile basket made it 17-16 setting Florida Tech up for the last shot. That came out of the hands of senior Fanny Paulin who beat the buzzer from beyond the arc, giving the home team a 20-16 lead at the end of the quarter.
Chile got the Panthers lead down to 24-20 early in the second but after a reverse lay-in by Stranger-Johannessen later in the quarter made it 26-20, Paulin would knock down a three to extend the lead to 29-20. A hoop by junior Aiste Vaitekunaite made it 35-20 and the Panthers would lead 35-21 at the end of the first quarter.
Uggen started the third with a basket and Vaitekunaite followed with a three, making it 40-21. A Paulin three later in the quarter was answered by Chile and it was 47-31. Hakanson and Paulin hit consecutive threes for Florida Tech and Chile hit one to close out the third, making it 53-38 heading into the final 10 minutes.
To this point the Panthers had made 11 threes to just four for the Chilean team. That changed quickly, as Chile hit one on their first possession of the fourth, making it 53-41. Chile would get a steal and a bucket as well as another make on their next possession to make it 54-45.
Florida Tech would make two free throws to make it 56-45. Chile would then go on a five-point run to make it 56-50. After a Florida Tech basket, a three by the Chileans made it 58-53. The five point margin was the smallest of the game.
Uggen would drain a three before Florida Tech got a couple free throws, giving them a 63-53 lead. Another three would fall for Uggen in the closing moments of the contest, giving the Panthers the 70-53 victory.
Uggen finished with 13 points for the Panthers, while Paulin and Hakanson had 12 each. Paulin finished 4-for-8 from three-point range, while Hakanson was 2-for-4. A combined 6-for-12 out of those two is definitely a good sign.
“I thought our kids played hard the whole game,” said Reynolds. “They got a little soft there in the fourth quarter and they made a run. We missed four or five shots in a row and they scored three or four possessions in a row and that got them back in the game.”
Reynolds also praised graduate student Cheyenne Scott, who didn’t have numbers in the box score that would blow you away, but kept Chile off balance much of the night.
“I thought her defense on the ball and off the ball and off the ball was the best I’ve seen her play since she’s been here. I was really happy with her.
“I thought Lina Stranger-Johannessen was solid defensively,” he continued. “She had mismatches and she did such a good job.”
Stranger-Johannessen also contributed offensively, going for nine points.
The regular season starts next Friday, November 12 at Tampa when the Panthers compete in the SSC/GSC Challenge. They will face Union at 4:30 that day at 4:30 p.m. They will play West Alabama at 1:30 on Saturday, November 13.
**Please Note: The quotes in this article came from the postgame interview John Reynolds did with Florida Tech broadcaster Jim Mitchell on the internet broadcast of the game.