Header pic: Niall Harris – credit: Florida Tech Athletics
On Saturday, the Florida Tech men’s basketball team continued to struggle, losing 78-61 at Saint Leo. The Panthers dropped to 9-7 overall and 3-8 in Sunshine State Conference play. The Lions improved to 7-9, (4-7 SSC).
The leading scorer for the Panthers was Niall Harris, who was 7-for-11 from the field and had a game-high and career-high 26 points to go along with 10 rebounds. Runako Ziegler finished with 16 points, 13 of those coming in the second half. He was 6-for-10 from the field and had two of the Panthers four three-pointers.
Outside of those two guys, the Panthers struggled from the field, shooting 23-for-59 (39.0 percent). They were 4-for-22 from the long-range (18.2 percent) and went 11-for-19 from the free-throw line (57.9 percent).
Florida Tech jumped out to a 5-0 lead with a hoop from Mate Papai and a three from Ziegler. After a three by Saint Leo, Sam Grant got a bucket to make it 7-3. After that, it was all Saint Leo as they ran off 16 straight points and led 19-7.
The Panthers went over four minutes without scoring during that stretch before Harris made a layup to make it 19-9 with 10:38 left in the half. Harris would drop a jump shot to make it 27-13 with 7:04 left. Part of a personal 10-0 run for Harris kept the Panthers in the game. It was 32-17 with 4:26 left before another Panther made a basket.
Florida Tech finished the half on an 8-0 run with Can Kaan Turgut scoring four, Harris with a bucket, and Josh Mims hit a couple of free throws. Saint Leo was held off the board for the final 4:11 of the first half but still led 36-25.
Jacob Crockett hit a three 28 seconds into the second half to make it a single-digit deficit, but the Lions answered with an 11-2 run including back-to-back threes by Jared and Wade Coomer. That made it a 47-31 lead for Saint Leo. Jared finished with 17 points and Wade had 12.
Francis Sio led Saint Leo with 22 points as they continued to pour it on. His three with 11:47 to go, making it 54-35.
The Lions kept the lead between 20 and 17 most of the way, but the Panthers did cut it down to 14 late with Ziegler completing a three-point play and a Crockett free throw.
For more info: Florida Tech @ Saint Leo Box Score
Saint Leo outrebounded Florida Tech 40-36, while the Panthers held a 39-12 bench scoring advantage and led in points in the paint, 30-16.
On Wednesday, the road trip continues for Florida Tech when they travel to Florida Southern for a 7:30 tip.