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Panthers Ride Hot Shooting in Win Over Johnson U

Header pic credit: Florida Tech Athletics – Grant Butler

The Florida Tech Panthers (4-1) pushed their winning streak to four games on Wednesday with a 94-68 win over the Johnson University Suns at the Clemente Center.

This was the second consecutive game for the Panthers, who were coming off a win over a pesky Puerto Rico-Bayamon team on Tuesday.

“We have four games in five days so we did a lot of experimentation over the last two games,” Panthers coach Billy Mims said by phone after Wednesday’s win. “We learned a lot about individual players and about what lineup combinations work best for us. That’s what non-league games are for.” 

All 15 players eligible to play for the Panthers got in the game and three of those players were in double figures, led by Mekhii Noble who finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds in just 22 minutes of action.

It was the fifth double-double in five games this season for Noble and the sixth straight, going back to last season.

Sean Houpt had a season-high 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting, while Runako Ziegler added 12 points in 19 minutes. Sesan Russell filled the stat sheet with seven points, seven rebounds, and six assists in 24 minutes.

“I was not going to play our starters 30 minutes in these last two games,” Mims said. “We didn’t want to wear anyone out, it was just about keeping fresh legs out there.”

Johnson University was a determined team, led by Corey Shelton’s 24 points. Byran Bron had 13, and Antwan Bradley contributed 10. The Suns scored the bulk of their points from beyond the arc, going 14-for-43 (32.6 percent). They were 23-for-69 overall, shooting 33.3 percent.

Florida Tech (4-1) started the game on a 14-3 run that included threes from Russell and Houpt in the first 3:17 of the game. A dunk by Noble with 12:59 left finished off a 10-0 run that was extinguished by a three out of the hands of Bradley, making it 26-11.

Johnson University got back into the contest with a 9-0 run with 7:36 to go, closing the gap to 30-23. The Panthers were unable to score in a span of 3:15. The teams traded baskets for a bit with Darragh O’Sullivan hitting two consecutive threes for Florida Tech, putting them up 42-28 with 2:45 to go.

The Suns finished the half on a 5-0 run and went to the locker room trailing 44-36.

The start of the second half saw the Panthers increase their lead to 50-43 with 17:41 left. They would proceed to go on a 13-0 run, increasing their lead to 20 with 13:46 to go.

Jacob Crockett drilled a three and dunked one home as part of a 7-0 run that widened the lead to 88-58 with 5:05 left. The Suns went over three minutes without a hoop in that time. The Panthers cruised from there, picking up their third straight home win.

For more info: Johnson U @ Florida Tech Box Score 

Florida Tech will have a walkthrough on Thanksgiving Day before opening up the Thanksgiving Tournament on Friday at 6:00 p.m. against Morris College out of South Carolina.

The tournament also includes Young Harris taking on Puerto Rico Bayamon at 3:30 p.m. on Friday. 

“There’s a championship at stake, and we wanna keep that trophy at home,” said Mims. “You have to win championships to learn how to be a champion.”

The consolation and championship games will be played on Saturday, at 1:30 and 4:00 p.m.