Late Lay Up Stuns Panthers in Road Thriller
By Space Coast Daily // January 19, 2014
Florida Southern improves to 17-0
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA — The last time No. 3 Florida Southern College (17-0, 6-0 SSC) fell at the George W. Jenkins Field House was to Florida Tech (12-4, 2-3 SSC) on Feb. 23, 2013 when the Mocs were No. 6 in NCAA Division II.
The loss was FSC’s last Sunshine State Conference loss and regular season loss. Entering Saturday’s slate, Florida Southern was one of just five undefeated teams in the nation and carried the longest active winning streak with 16 games (tied with East Stroudsburg of Pa.).
FLORIDA SOUTHERN IMPROVES TO 17-0
In a matchup of preseason favorites, free throws and turnovers proved to be costly as the Panthers, who led for the majority of the contest, shot 54.5 percent from the charity stripe and finished with 17 turnovers and the Mocs nailed clutch jumpers to come from behind and defeat FIT, 87-85.
Akeem Johnson carried the offense in the first half and finished the game with a career-high 23 points on 8-of-10 shooting and added seven rebounds while Jermaine Jackson finished with 24 points on 11-of-20 from the field, his ninth 20-plus point performance. Corbin Jackson registered his 12th double-double of the season with 13 points, 12 rebounds and was just two assists shy of his third triple-double.
“We led for 49 minutes and 44 seconds,” said head coach Billy Mims. “We missed our free throws and had too many turnovers. It is definitely a hard pill to swallow and in my 33 years of coaching, I do not think that I have ever lost a game like this.”
Although the Panthers outrebounded the Mocs, 44-30, it was the bench points and points off turnovers that led the rally for Florida Southern as FSC scored 16 points off turnovers and 64 points came from the second unit, including 32 from Kevin Capers. Florida Southern turned the ball over just four times and in what turned out to be the play of the game, drew a charge with four seconds remaining to preserve its one-point lead.
The second half began the same as the first half as the Panthers opened up on a 9-2 run to take a 52-42 advantage. After consecutive jumpers by Kevin Capers, Jermaine Jackson responded scoring eight points of FIT’s first 17 second-half points. With Florida Tech’s forwards in foul trouble, FSC answered back and cut FIT’s lead to 67-63 with 8:36 left to play. Trading points with the Mocs, the Panthers came up big on the glass late, pulling down two huge rebounds with less than a minute left to preserve their lead.
However, Capers drained a three-pointer and cut FIT’s lead to two, 84-82 with 33.7 seconds remaining. Lamar McKnight’s lay-up with 16 seconds remaining gave the Mocs a one-point lead, 86-85. After hitting both free throws, the Panthers heaved a three-pointer at the buzzer that was just right and the night ended in heartbreak for FIT.
Strong defense prevailed in the opening minutes of the game and the Panthers, taking a 9-2 lead heading into the first media timeout behind Johnson’s five points and David Usic’s two offensive rebounds. FIT continued to shoot the ball well in the half (55 percent from the field) and Johnson took over offensively, going 7-of-9 for 17 points but free throw shooting allowed the Mocs to keep the game close. A three-pointer at the buzzer cut FIT’s lead to two, 43-41. For the Panthers, Jermaine Jackson scored 12 points and Corbin Jackson added seven points and half-high’s with eight rebounds and four assists.
PANTHERS RETURN HOME JAN. 22 AT 7:30 P.M.
The Panthers return to the Clemente Center to take on Nova Southeastern University (6-10, 3-2 SSC) on Wednesday, Jan. 22 at 7:30 p.m. The game follows the women (12-5, 3-2 SSC) hosting the No. 4 Sharks (14-0, 5-0 SSC) at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday’s contests will be “Battle of the Halls” Night at Clemente.