Florida Tech Earns First Conference Win

By  //  January 6, 2014

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Second half run ended in 59-40 victory

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORDA — The Florida Tech Panthers returned to the court and to Sunshine State Conference action Saturday afternoon as they took on the Lions of Saint Leo inside the Marion Bowman Center.

Junior Kayk Wilson led all scorers with 23 points in the 59-40 victory over Saint Leo. (Florida Tech image)

Junior Kayk Wilson led all scorers with 23 points in the 59-40 victory over Saint Leo. (Florida Tech image)

The Panthers used a big run in the second half, and stout defense to pick up the 59-40 victory over the Lions.

“I thought we adjusted throughout the week in practice,” said head coach John Reynolds.

“One of the things we did was play a lot of 2-3 and 3-2 zone, and we probably played zone 75 percent of this game. We probably haven’t played that much zone in the last decade. I thought we did a good job of adjusting our style of play, and picking up a big win on the road.”

Kayk Wilson

Kayk Wilson

Junior Kayk Wilson had battled illness before Saturday, but had the shooting touch to begin the game as she hit three three-point shots for the Panthers. The buckets gave the Panthers an early 9-2 lead over the Lions. The Lions proceeded to go on a run of their own to take the lead at 11-10. The two teams traded buckets for the rest of the half; with the Panthers able to take a 25-22 lead at the end of the period.

Neither team shot the ball well in the first half. The Panthers were 7-of-34 from the floor in the first half, and the Lions were just 8-of-31. The Panthers turned the ball over just four times in the first half compared to 12 giveaways by the Lions.

Diamond Cooper

Diamond Cooper

The Panthers (10-4, 1-1 SSC) looked to take control in the second half, and took a seven point lead at 32-25 early in the period behind Wilson’s fourth three-pointer of the game. The Panthers used turnovers by Saint Leo to their advantage as they took their biggest lead of the game at 49-32 thanks to a 14-0 run over a six minute span.

After being kept off the scoreboard for about six minutes, the Lions ended the Panthers run to cut the deficit to 49-34.The Lions could not get any closer, as the Panthers extended their lead to as many as 21 en route to a 59-40 victory.

Rita Acevedo

Rita Acevedo

The Panthers shot 38 percent in the second half and finished 15-of-55 for the game from the field. They were 5-of-13 from three-point range and 24-of-31 from the foul line.

Wilson led the Panthers and all scorers with 23 points. It was the sixth game this season that Wilson has scored at least 20 points. Senior Rita Acevedo scored nine points to go with 12 rebounds. Sophomore Diamond Cooper finished with four points, and made an impact on the defensive end with four blocks. The four blocks are the most by a Panther since 3/12/11 when Tamara Dowdell had six against Arkansas Tech.

TERESA MANIGRASSO LED SAINT LEO WITH 11 POINTS

“One of the things we did was play a lot of 2-3 and 3-2 zone, and we probably played zone 75 percent of this game. We probably haven’t played that much zone in the last decade. I thought we did a good job of adjusting our style of play, and picking up a big win on the road.” — John Reynolds

Saint Leo (10-2, 1-1 SSC) finished the game 15-of-60 from the field. They were just 2-of-22 from three-point range, and 8-of-14 from the foul line. The Lions were led by Teresa Manigrasso who scored 11 points.

The Lions out-rebounded the Panthers 50-44, but turned the ball over 24 times that led to 25 points for FIT. The Panthers’ bench outscored the Lions’ subs 21-9.

“I thought we got into passing lanes,” Reynolds said. “We helped the helper today. If you look at our steals, most of the time they came from a teammate helping a teammate. I told the girls, today was the biggest game of the week. On Wednesday, Rollins will be the biggest game of the week. Whether you win or lose, the next conference game is always the biggest game.”

The Panthers will return to action and the Clemente Center Wednesday night when they host No. 16 Rollins. Tip-off is set for 5:30 p.m. ET.


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