Header pic: Aiste Vaitekunaite – Credit: Florida Tech Athletics
The Florida Tech women’s basketball team shot well from three-point range on Saturday, helping them to a 67-61 win over Rollins at the Clemente Center.
“I’m happy for the kids but we can’t rest on that,” said Panthers coach John Reynolds by phone after the game. “We made some mistakes down the stretch but the effort was there today.”
With the victory, Florida Tech snapped a six-game losing streak and got their first conference win of the season, after losing their first 12 SSC games.
The Panthers were 23-for-50 (46.0 percent) from the floor, including 12-for-22 from long distance (54.5 percent). They were 9-for-16 from the free-throw line, good for 56.3 percent.
Aiste Vaitekunaite led the Panthers with 20 points, including a perfect 7-for-7 from the floor, and 4-for-4 from behind the arc. She also contributed five rebounds and two assists.
“Aiste has been our best player for a month,” Reynolds said. “She played a great all-around game for us.”
Severine Uggen was the Panthers’ other big threat from three-point range, going 5-for-8 en route to a 15 point day. Hannah Roney finished with 11 points, going 2-for-6 from the field with one three. She came up big from the free-throw line, hitting 6-of-8.
“Sev was pretty darn good today,” Reynolds said. “She had disappeared for a couple of weeks, but she came to play today.”
Rollins had three scorers in double figures with Niya Pluviose leading the way with 16 points. Yoke Tassent finished with 15, and Lucy Leen with 10. The team was 19-for-57 from the floor (33.3 percent), including 11-for-35 from three (31.4 percent). There was a heck of a discrepancy from the free-throw line, as the Tars made 12-of-18 (66.7 percent).
Rollins only led once in this game after a three from Leen put them up 3-2 1:28 into the game. The Panthers then reeled off 12 straight points, including threes from Vaitiekunaite and Uggen that put the Panthers up 14-3. Uggen would hit another with 2:38 left, giving the Panthers a 17-6 lead at the end of the quarter.
Vaitiekunaite would keep the pressure on to start the second quarter, hitting a three 19 seconds in. She would hit a free throw, before dropping another three bomb and giving the Panthers a 24-9 lead. Her layup moments later gave the Panthers a 26-9 lead and gave Vaitiekunaite nine points in the quarter.
Those would be the only points the Panthers scored in the quarter as Rollins went on a 10-0 run in the final 5:39 of the quarter, helped by five Florida Tech turnovers. The Panthers still held a 26-19 lead heading into the half.
The third quarter started even as Leen and Tassent hit threes for Rollins and Roney and Paulin answered. The Tars did get the game to one point, 32-31 but Uggen’s three a few minutes later gave the Panthers a 39-34 lead with 3:41 left.
Vaitiekunaite and Uggen both hit threes in the closing minutes of the quarter and the Panthers led 47-41 as the fourth quarter got underway.
Freshman Dalma Ehmann scored the first four points for the Panthers to start the quarter and Makyla Daniels’ bucket made it 53-44. A three by Rollins was answered by Paulin. Uggen put the Panthers up 60-49 with 3:03 left.
Rollins went down fighting, but Roney made four free throws in the final 25 seconds to seal the victory.
“We still struggled to communicate and that’s been an issue for us,” said Reynolds. “We made some mistakes down the stretch but we haven’t been in games late recently, so there were things we did like fouling a three-point shooter with less than three minutes left.”
“We’ve had kids out injured and out sick,” he continued, “so everyone is playing out of position and trying to adjust. That’s not an excuse, that’s just what we are going through.
For more info: Rollins @ Florida Tech Box Score
Next up for the Panthers is a trip to Daytona to meet Embry-Riddle on Wednesday, Feb. 2. The tip is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
“They are a good team that’s well-coached but if we play the way we did today, we can give them a challenge. “We have the talent to win, we have a good team. We just need to start winning games.”