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Uggen Shines in Home Opener

Header photo: Severine Uggen – Credit: Florida Tech Athletics

The Florida Tech Panthers (1-2) opened their home season with a 82-73 win over the Flagler Saints in a non-conference tilt at the Clemente Center on Tuesday night.

Junior guard Severine Uggen finished with a game-high 29 points in 31 minutes. She was 12 out of 19 from the field, including an impressive 5-for-6 from three-point range. She got some help as the Panthers had three others score in double figures.

“We’re capable of putting up big numbers every night,” said Panthers coach John Reynolds in his phone interview with us after the game.. “We can have four or five kids in double figures every night.”

Fanny Hakanson scored 14 and had eight assists, Aiste Vaitekunaite had 12 points and eight rebounds to lead the team in that category. She was also 5-for-5 from the charity stripe. 

Fanny sees the floor well and identifies who is playing well,” said Reynolds of Hakanson. “She gets her teammates the ball and lets them play to their strengths.”

Hannah Roney finished with 10 points, including 3-for-3 from the free throw line.

“I thought Hanna played well,” Reynolds said. “She is such a good teammate and has really good basketball sense,” he said. “We changed the defense on the fly tonight and she adapted really well.”

As a team the Panthers were 29-for-70, good for 41.4 percent. They made 10 out of 28 from the free throw line and hit 14 of their 17 free throws, good for 82.4 percent.

Jaziana Mathis finished with a double-double for the Saints, pouring in 26 points to go along with 12 rebounds and five assists. Taylor Gardner helped out with 18 points.

Uggen started the game scoring the Panthers first nine points. Hakanson would drain a three to put them up 12-4. Uggen had bookend threes with a Hakanson basket in between and the Panthers were up 20-10 with 3:55 left in the first quarter.

Flagler (2-1) went on a six-point run to close the gap to four, but the Panthers got going again and finished the quarter up 27-16 after Uggen hit a three with one second left. She would finish the quarter with 18 points.

“Sev really had it going tonight, she was feeling it,” said Reynolds.

The Panthers shot 58.8 percent in the quarter, going 10-for-17. Five of those 10 were from three-point range.

Uggen would make another three 2:02 into the second quarter and another basket would give Florida Tech a 33-24 lead. Flagler would score twice before Roney drained a three to make it a 36-28 game. 

A Mathis three with 2:28 to go in the half cut the Tech lead to 40-39, but free throws helped the Panthers get the lead back to four before Marta Franco cut the lead to 47-45 with 22 seconds left.

That set the Panthers up for the last shot and Vaitekunaite drilled a corner three as the buzzer sounded, putting the home team up 50-45 at the break.

With 8:19 left in the third, the Saints took a 51-50 lead and the lead went back-and-forth. Fanny Paulin had a five point run including a three with 3:44 left, giving the Panthers a 61-58 lead. Hakanson would make a three later in the quarter and the Panthers led 66-62 heading into the fourth.

“Our defense just isn’t there yet, we aren’t communicating well right now,” said Reynolds. As a coach you want them to play with a February, or early March mentality and that’s just not possible right now. We need game experience.” 

Florida Tech scored the first four points of the final stanza to expand the lead to eight. Flagler did get it down to five, 70-65 with 7:11 to go but the Panthers got one nack on a Hakanson hoop and they never looked back, leading by as many as 11 with 58 seconds left on a pair of Roney free throws.

For more info: Flagler @ Florida Tech Box Score

Flagler turned the ball over 19 times to the Panthers 11, and the Panthers held a 20-9 advantage on points off turnovers. The Saints did have a 40-34 advantage in rebounds, and a 32-22 edge in points in the paint. Florida Tech was better off the bench, 14-12 and on second chance points 8-6.

Reynolds said defense will be the focus as they practice for their Sunshine State Conference opener against Saint Leo on Saturday. He said there are things to work on from a coaching standpoint as well, pointing to a 10-second violation in this game as an example.

“Usually the official will let a kid know when they have about five seconds left but it is on me,” said Reynolds. “When you make a mistake you own it, and I have to do a better job in those situations,” he said.

Saturday’s game is set for a 2:00 p.m. start at the Clemente Center. It should be a good early season battle.

“I think they are a top three team in our league,” Reynolds said of Saint Leo. “They are physical, aggressive and well coached, and like us can have four or five score in double figures. It will be a tough game.”