Connect With Us On Social Media

Panthers Win Big Over Tars in SSC Battle

Header Pic: Sean Houpt – Credit: Florida Tech Athletics

The Florida Tech men’s basketball team won their eighth straight game on Saturday, beating the Rollins College Tars 92-77 at the Alfond Sports Center in Winter Park.

The Panthers (8-1, 3-0 SSC) had one of those days you wish you could bottle. They were 31-of-61 from the floor (50.8 percent. That included 14-for-29 from long distance, good for 48.3 percent. Just for good measure, they were 16-for-21 from the free-throw line (76.2 percent).

“We got a lot of production tonight,” said Panthers coach Billy Mims by phone after the game. “Our bench played well, and everybody that stepped on the court did something productive.”

Sean Houpt finished with a game and career-high 32 points and six rebounds on Saturday, going 10-for-15 from the floor. This comes on the heels of his 24-point performance on Wednesday against Florida Southern.

“Sean was our player of the game on Wednesday,” said Mims. “He was 6-for-12 on threes on Wednesday and 8-for-13 tonight. He made 14 threes in two games and averaged 28 points this week, I think he should be named the SSC Player of the Week this week.”

Mekhii Noble recorded his ninth double-double of the season, and 10th straight going back to last season. He scored 20 points and pulled down 10 rebounds against Rollins. He got the final rebound with about 2:40 left in the game.

“He is a rebounding beast and went 9-for-14 from the floor,” said Mims. “Every shot he takes he’s capable of making. He’s playing with the highest confidence and for me, is the best post player in the SSC.”

Sesan Russell had 17 points, eight rebounds, and four steals for the Panthers. According to the Florida Tech website, that puts him over 1,000 points and 100 steals for his career. Niall Harris was the final Panther in double figures, finishing with 11.

The Tars (5-4, 0-3 SSC) had three players in double figures, led by Hutton Yenor’s 25. Dayton Gumm finished with 17, and Brooks Cluxton had a double-double, recording 14 points and 11 rebounds. 

Houpt opened the scoring with a three. Yernor would knock down one of his own later in the half to put Rollins up 11-7. A hoop by Noble, a three by Russell, and a layup by Houpt put the Panthers up 17-11. A huge dunk by Noble would make it a 23-16 lead and Russell would follow with back-to-back threes to give his team a 29-19 lead with 9:10 left in the half.

Mate Papai went out with an injury with 8:14 left in the half and did not return. Mims said he is day-to-day. The team has Sunday and Tuesday off this week, so he expects Papai to be back Wednesday and hopes to have him ready to play on Saturday at Nova Southeastern.

Harris helped the Panthers finish the half hitting twice from three-point range. Houpt would add another, helping the Panthers take a commanding 49-33 lead at the break.

Houpt finished the first half with eight points and wasted no time getting things going in the second. After trading threes with Gumm, he got one of his own, followed that with a layup, and backed that up with another from long range, scoring the Panthers’ first 11 points of the half and expanding the lead to 60-38 with 16:52 left.

He would bang down another three with 11:11 left, making it 68-52. He came through with two more, putting his team up 75-56 with 8:05 to go.

He finally missed a three with just over five minutes left but made up for it as he chased the play down the floor to get a huge block.

“Sean was focused on both ends of the floor.,” said Mims. “He got a clean block on a guy that had an easy, open basket at the other end.”

Noble would put the exclamation point on the game with a dunk that came off his 10th rebound of the contest. That made it 78-64 and the Panthers would seal the game from the free-throw line.

For more info: Florida Tech @ Rollins Box Score

Florida Tech will hit the road again on Saturday, December 11 when they take on Nova Southeastern in Fort Lauderdale. Tip-off is scheduled for just after 4:00 p.m., following the women’s game.