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Panthers Drop Conference Opener to Lions

Header Pic: Fanny Hakanson

The Florida Tech Panthers (1-3, 0-1 SSC) couldn’t keep the momentum of a 20-point first quarter on Saturday, as Saint Leo got the 63-53 victory in the women’s basketball conference opener for both teams.

“I don’t want to take anything away from Saint Leo, they outplayed us, they played defense and rebounded well,” said Panthers coach John Reynolds by phone after the game. That said, we do a really good job beating ourselves, loose balls, travels, and our inability to rebound in every game. That is about toughness.”

Severine Uggen was the Panthers top scorer with 15 points, 14 of those came in the first quarter. Aiste Vaitekunaite was the only other Florida Tech player in double figures with 10 points. Hannah Roney finished with nine points, all coming from beyond the arc.

Fanny Hakanson led the Panthers in rebounds (7), and assists (6).

Uggen and Vaitekunaite kept the Panthers in the first quarter. Uggen out them up 8-7 early and Vaitekunaite’s three made it a four-point game with a three, with 5:22 left. The Lions would tie the game at 11 before Roney hit a three that was answered by Amanda Ulrich, tying the game again.

A three by Uggen and a free throw by Makyla Daniels made it 18-14. Uggen would drop a jumper with seven seconds left in the quarter to give the Panthers a 20-16 lead.

“If we only had to play first quarters we would be undefeated,” said Reynolds. “Unfortunately there is still 30 minutes left.”

Those next 30 minutes were not kind to the Panthers.

The second quarter was a struggle for both teams as they combined for 15 points. The Panthers got a three from Roney with 8:35 to go, giving the Panthers a short-lived 23-20 lead. Saint Leo went on a 6-0 run to take a 26-23 lead before Daniels closed the gap to one, 26-25 with just under four minutes left.

Neither team scored the rest of the quarter as Saint Leo’s scoring drought lasted 4:57 and the Panthers was 3:58. Florida Tech missed their last six shots, while the Lions went 0-for-8.

Vaitekunaite would close the gap to 28-27 early in the third, but the Panthers but they would go 3:22 without scoring before Hakanson made a three to cut the Lions lead to 36-30 with 5:06 to go in the quarter.

The quarter would end with the Panthers down 47-37 in favor of Saint Leo. The fourth quarter saw the Panthers pick up the scoring again, but they were unable to take advantage of the struggles that kept Saint Leo from running away with the game.

Roney hit her final three of the day with 2:16 left to get the Panthers to within seven. 54-47. That came with Saint Leo in the midst of a seven-minute scoring drought that the Panthers couldn’t take advantage of.

“We started fouling with over two minutes left and they gave us chances,” Reynolds said. “We had good looks. I think we missed four or five shots at the end. We didn’t shoot well, and we didn’t rebound. You can’t win if you don’t rebound.”

Ayanna Trigg was the Lions leading scorer, finishing with a double-double. She was 7-for-8 from the field for 17 points and she pulled down 14 rebounds. Kiki Mcintyre had 15 points and Amanda Ulrich had 14.

“They are a good team and they played with more toughness,” said Reynolds. “We are not as tough as we need to be and we’re not committed like we need to be.I think its a team issue not an individual issue ”

For more info: Saint Leo @ Florida Tech Box Score

The Panthers shot 31.7 percent from the floor (20-for63), they were 9-for-29 from three-point range, good for 31 percent. Saint Leo was 0-for-9 from three-point range but were 17-for-30 from the free throw line, while the Panthers were 4-for-6.

The Lions (2-2, 1-0 SSC) were 23-for-55 from the field (41.8 percent).

Things don’t get easier for the Panthers as they will host University of the Sciences on Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m.

“They are 2-0 and have been getting points in the top 25 poll,” Reynolds said. “They are a good team.