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Panther Women Lose Heartbreaker to NSU

Header pic: Lina Stranger-Johannessen – Credit: Florida Tech Athletics

The Florida Tech women’s basketball team gave Nova Southeastern a heck of a game on Saturday, but the Panthers came up short, 82-80 at the Clemente Center.

Lina Stranger-Johannessen caught a long pass on the Panthers’ final possession and looked to take an obvious bump as she caught the pass but nothing was called. She got a shot off at the buzzer anyway that unfortunately did not fall. 

“Everybody gave us a great effort today,” said Panthers coach John Reynolds by phone after the game. “Nova is the hottest team in the league and all we wanted was that kind of effort, and they did that. They left everything out on the court.”

Florida Tech (3-17, 1-14 SSC) had four players in double figures, led by Severine Uggen’s 19. Fanny Paulin added 16, Hannah Roney had 15, and Aiste Vaitekunaite chipped in with 12.

 NSU (14-8, 9-6 SSC) answered with four double-digit scorers as well, led by Grace Gilmore’s 22.

It has been made clear that coaches can’t criticize officials, but writers can. This game was lopsided with calls going in favor of the Sharks, to the tune of 28 free throw attempts. On the other end, Florida Tech attempted 16. To NSU’s credit, they made 22, while the Panthers made 12.

All any team and coach wants is consistency and transparency in any game, but especially in a conference game this late in the season. That did not happen in this game, not even close.

Many of the fouls came down the stretch when the Panthers could least afford them, yet that last foul on the final possession that Florida Tech had, the ref decides to put the whistle away.

“I can’t tell you what I am thinking but I will say if the management has to come down because a whole section is on the refs, that tells you all you need to know,” said Reynolds. “I don’t know if that played into the end of the game or not, but we shouldn’t be getting an official in February that we haven’t seen all year.”

That section of fans was removed from the building, as Reynolds eluded to, but they weren’t overly demonstrative. There is no telling what they were saying, and there is no doubt that fans can get a lot done verbally, but usually, if you are going to take steps to have a whole section of fans tossed, it’s likely their anger is warranted and as an official, you just can’t take it.

The Panthers started well, as Roney’s three 1:39 into the game put the Panthers up 5-2. Gilmore answered and the game went back-and-forth for a bit before a bucket from Stranger-Johannessen and consecutive hoops for Uggen gave Florida Tech a 17-11 lead and they would up the lead to 20-13 at the end of the first quarter. 

Less than two minutes into the second, Florida Tech went on a 7-0 run, five of those coming from Paulin. That put the Panthers up 12, 27-15.

NSU would cut it to six later in the quarter, but a three from Vaitekunaite made it 36-27 with 3:25 left in the half. The Sharks would conclude the half scoring the last five points and they trimmed the Panthers lead to 36-32 at the break.

Florida Tech maintained a five-point lead early in the third quarter before the Sharks cut it to one with 5:58 left. Vaitekunaite’s layup made it 46-43 and a three by Uggen made it 50-46 with 4:16 left in the third.

An 8-0 run by Nova turned the game around, giving them a 54-50 lead. A three from Paulin cut it to one, but that was answered by McKenah Peters to put the visitors up 57-53 with 1:02 left in the quarter.

Roney got her team back in it with a personal 6-0 run to end the quarter. She had a layup a free throw and a three-pointer, helping the Panthers take a 59-57 lead into the final quarter.

Uggen’s hoop to start the final stanza gave Florida Tech a four-point lead. NSU stormed back with 10 straight points and led 67-61 with 6:23 left. A 9-2 run put the Panthers back in the driver’s seat, 70-69.

Roney hit two free throws with 2:26 left, putting the Panthers back on top 74-73. After Gilmore’s free throws gave the Sharks a 77-74 lead with 1:39 left, but the Panthers got a free throw from Stranger-Johannessen and two by Uggen tied the game at 77 with 52 seconds left.

After a timeout, NSU went up by one on a free throw, just to see Roney knock down a jumper to make it 79-78 Tech. Gilmore’s layup put Nova up 80-79, but a free throw by Stranger-Johannessen tied the game at 80.

The Sharks called timeout and Gilmore’s jumper out of the timeout dropped to make it 82-80. That set up the final play that should have resulted in a foul but instead kept NSU on top at the buzzer.

For more info: Nova Southeastern @ Florida Tech Box Score

Florida Tech was 29-for-52 from the floor (55.8 percent) from the floor. They were an impressive 10-for-16 ( 62.5 percent) from three-point territory. NSU shot 49.1 percent (26-53) overall, including  8-18 (44.4 percent) from deep.

The Panthers are back in action Saturday, February 12 at Lynn. The game will get underway at 2:00 p.m.