Coming off a big win over Barry last Wednesday, the Florida Tech Panthers traveled to Palm
Beach Atlantic on Saturday, January 7, looking to keep their winning ways going. Unfortunately,
the Sailfish had other ideas, outlasting the Panthers 79-70 in a Sunshine State Conference tilt.
Mekhii Noble scored a season-high 23 points, hitting 11 of his 18 shots from the floor. He got
help from the usual suspects as Sean Hoput had 19 points on 5-of-15 shooting, Niall Harris was
5-for-9 shooting for 12 points and came up one rebound short of a double-double. Sesan
Russell finished with 10 points.
In the end, it wasn’t enough as PBA took control in the first half and held the Panthers off down
The first eight minutes saw the Sailfish and Panthers go back and forth on the scoreboard. PBA
did have a 6-0 run early but the Panthers battled back and took the lead 20-19 on a Noble dunk.
The game would be tied at 24 before the Sailfish reeled off six straight points. The Panthers
fought back thanks to a Houpt three at the buzzer, but it was 41-31 at halftime.
Houpt would start the second half as he ended the first, trimming the PBA lead to seven, 41-34
but the home team was too strong down the stretch. Noble would make a bucket late to get his
team to within six, but PBA put the game away from the free throw line.
The Panthers rebounded quickly with a big win over 23rd-ranked Embry-Riddle on Wednesday
night at the Clemente Center. Sesan Russell was named the Player of the Game thanks to his
28 point performance that saw him go 10-for-13 from the floor. He also added five rebounds.
Houpt had 17 in this one, and Harris finished with 12. The Panthers led in the first 10 minutes,
as Russell hit a three to put his team up 24-13. Embry-Riddle fought back and tied the game at
33 as the first half came to a close.
The Eagles went up 37-33 in the opening moments of the second half, but a four-point play by
Russell tied the game. He followed that with a layup to put the Panthers up by two. Threes by
Josh Mims and Houpt highlighted a 9-0 run, as the Panthers went up 48-39.
Russell hit another three with 9:02 left to put his team up 55-44. Embry-Riddle got it back down
to nine with 4:48 left, but the Florida Tech offense kicked it into gear again and Mims drilled
another three with 2:08 left to make it 70-55. Houpt hit five straight free throws down the stretch
to put the Panthers back in the win column.
The team will play Eckerd at home on Wednesday, January 18 at the Clemente Center. Tipoff is
scheduled for 7:30.
The Florida Tech women dropped their fourth straight game on Saturday when they dropped a
70-65 decision at Palm Beach Atlantic. The Panthers fell to 2-10, overall and 0-8 in the
conference, but they showed some moxie in this one, against a Sailfish team that is two games
over .500 and has a .4-4 record in the SSC.
Tai Roberts led the Panthers with 22 points on 8-of-14 shooting. Lina Stranger-Johannessen
was the only other player in double digits for the visitors, shooting 5-for-10 from the floor and
finishing with 12 points.
The Panthers got off to a slow start shooting just 7-for-27 as a team from the floor in the first
half. In contrast, the Sailfish started the game with a 6-0 run and shot 13-for-27 in the first half.
They led 30-22 at the break.
Roberts started the second half with a bucket and Dalma Ehmann got a steal and a layup to
make it 30-26. After PBA scored, Roberts made good on a three-point play and cut the lead to
32-29 with 8:12 left in the quarter.
The comeback was short-lived, as PBA scored seven straight points and would extend it to
41-31 with six and a half minutes left. The Sailfish led by as many as 19 with four minutes left in
the quarter, but the Panthers fought back with nine in a row, capped by an Emily Acampora
The Sailfish responded with a three by Courtni Demorest and led 57-44 heading into the final 10
The first basket of the fourth quarter came 3:03 in from PBA. That was answered by Remingtyn
Smith, as she laid one in and sparked an 11-0 run that included a three by
Stranger-Johannessen. She would add a layup as well, as the Panthers cut the lead to 59-55
with 3:39 left, as Roberts scored four points to end the run.
The Panthers would get to within four again 66-62 after a three by Roberts with 55 seconds left,
but the Sailfish were able to hold the Panthers off and get the five-point win.
Wednesday night the Panthers (3-10) played host to Embry-Riddle and got their first home
victory of the season with an 81-68 win over the Eagles. The win was the first for the Panthers
in the Sunshine State Conference, and ended a four-game losing skid.
Liberatore put up a career-high 28 points, going 10-for-13 from the floor including 5-for-5
from three-point range.. She added five rebounds and two assists to her impressive scoring line.
Acampora finished with 14 points, and Roberts was the only other Panther in double-digits with
The Panthers used a 6-0 spurt at the beginning of the quarter and an 8-0 run late to go up 17-12
at the end of the quarter.
The second quarter started with the Eagles draining two three-pointers, while Smith and
Acampora answered with threes of their own. Acampora hit another, putting the Panthers up
The third quarter was pretty even with Embry-Riddle holding a 20-19 edge. Florida Tech still led
the game 64-54, heading into the fourth. Liberatore hit her fifth of the night to put the Panthers
up by nine and she had a layup with over three minutes left to make it a 74-64 game. The
Panthers lead would not dip below double-digits again.
Florida Tech has a bye on Saturday and will return to the Clemente Center on the 18th, taking
on #8 Eckerd at 5:30 p.m. They will travel to Lakeland on Saturday. Jan 21 to take on Florida Southern.
Florida Tech’s athletic teams finished with a 3.18 overall GPA for the fall semester. All women’s
teams finished with a 3.2 or higher average. Volleyball (3.53), Women’s basketball (3.43),
Women’s Soccer (3.39), Men’s Soccer (3.37), and Softball (3.37).