Sam Daniel’s Career Night Carries Florida Tech In SSC Opener, Defeats Tampa 68-61
By Florida Tech // November 19, 2015
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Florida Tech’s recent struggles against Tampa were evident, having lost four straight to the Spartans, but on Wednesday the Panthers rode the hot-hand of Sam Daniel to escape the Bob Martinez Athletics Center with a notable 68-61 win in their Sunshine State Conference opener.
“We executed on the offensive end of the floor, made shots when we had to, and defended enough to hold them off tonight,” said head coach Billy Mims following his club’s third consecutive ‘W’ to begin the season.
“With this team, night in and night out, there’s always going to be someone different stepping up. As long as everyone gives maximum effort, I think good things will continue to happen.”
Daniel finished the night 8-of-14 from the field, including 6-of-11 from beyond the arc, willing his team to victory with 14 of his career-high 24 points coming in the second half.
“Sam’s a great shooter,” said Mims.
“He’s a big man that’s very good at stepping outside, facing the basket and knocking down the long-range shot. He’s a very confident shooter and tonight had a near-perfect game. I thought we got a really complete game out of him and he showed us why we think he has a brilliant future.”
A slow start by the Panthers on both ends of the floor gave Tampa an early 10-3 edge, but were able to claw back and reclaim a 13-12 advantage on a runner in the lane by Daniel with 11:05 to play in the first half.
Florida Tech converted just 36.7 percent of its shot attempts in the opening stanza, but its stifling defense limited Tampa to 29 percent from the field and took a 26-23 lead into halftime following a trey by Patrick Anderson in the waning seconds.
“We knew we had to come in here and be tough both mentally and physically to win this game,” said Mims. “In the first half, although we struggled offensively, we went to the locker room with a three-point lead. The whole reason for that lead was the fact that we played great defense. Defense to me was the key to the game, and I thought it was a collective team effort.”
Five straight points by Tampa’s Pat Bacon evened the score at 36 all with 15:36 remaining in regulation. However, the Panthers would respond with a 12-4 run to pull back in front 48-40.
Corbin Jackson found his rhythm down the stretch, scoring six of his 17 points in a span of 1:11, to extend Florida Tech’s lead to 61-49 with under five minutes to go.
The Spartans hung around, though. A 7-0 spurt by Tampa quickly cut the margin back to five, but as he did all night, Daniel came up big and provided the dagger that would send Spartans’ fans towards the exits.
The sophomore’s previous career-high came last November in an 18-point effort against Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras.
Jackson collected his third double-double in as many games, pulling down a game-high 12 rebounds in addition to his 17 points.
Florida Tech recovered nicely from its shaky offensive performance in the first half by making 16-of-28 (57.1%) from the field in the second half.
The Panthers will return home to the Clemente Center this Saturday as they welcome provisional SSC member Embry-Riddle. Tip-off is set for 3:30 p.m. ET.