Florida Tech’s Defense Sets Tone Against Mocs, Wins 73-61
By Florida Tech // December 6, 2015
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Entering Saturday’s game against Sunshine State Conference foe Florida Southern, Florida Tech had to find a way to keep the league’s top scoring offense in check. The Panthers’ defense clamped down on the Moccasins, holding them to just 20 first half points, en route to a 73-61 victory at Jenkins Field House.
The Mocs (8-1, 3-1 SSC) were handed their first loss of the season and held to their second lowest point output of the season. With the result, the Panthers (6-2, 3-1 SSC) moved to 4-0 on the road.
“We knew we had to keep Florida Southern in the 50s or 60s in order to beat them because this team likes to score a lot of points,” said head coach John Reynolds.
“Our kids really did a great job in our half-court defense. Most of the game they knew when to back off and when to be aggressive, and I think we did a great job of that.”
DeLise Williams led all scorers with a career-high 24 points, while Shequana Harris tallied 19 points to go along with five assists and four rebounds.
The Panthers opened the contest on fire, scoring 13 of the game’s first 15 points, and led 19-11 after one quarter. Harris scored five points in the period to help her team grab the early lead.
Straight blocks by Diamond Cooper and straight steals by Williams helped FIT build its lead to 11 at 23-12 with 7:34 remaining in second quarter.
A Kailyn Ebb layup with 38 seconds left in the opening half gave the Panthers a 29-20 lead heading into the break. FSC came into the game averaging 36.7 points in the first half, but the 20 points scored against FIT were the lowest by the Mocs in any half this season.
Harris and Williams each scored seven points in the first 20 minutes, while Ebb notched five points and seven rebounds in the half.
The Mocs cut into FIT’s advantage early in the third, making it 33-29 with 7:30 remaining in the stanza. However, the Panthers responded with a 19-12 run of their own, and closed the period leading 52-41. Harris scored 12 points in the third quarter alone, on 5-of-5 shooting from the field and 2-of-2 from beyond the arc.
The Panthers outscored the Mocs 20-4 in the paint and held them to just 26.9 shooting in the first half.
FSC opened the fourth with a 9-3 run, trimming the Panthers lead to 55-50 with just 5:52 remaining in the period. Cooper answered with a basket of her own to end the Mocs’ streak and ignite a 10-4 run that FIT used to close out the game.
Julie McCarthy helped set the tone in the paint, notching nine points, four blocks and three rebounds in the win. Coming off the Panther bench, Cooper finished with four points and two blocks, while Ebb tallied seven points and a game-high 11 boards.
FIT’s size down low caused their opponent fits, as the Mocs were outrebounded 42-31 on the glass. The Panthers also controlled the scoring in the paint 30-24.
“In the first half our defense was unbelievable,” Reynolds stated.
“I don’t think you’re going to get a better defensive performance than holding Florida Southern to 20 points in a half. I think they became a little frustrated in the second half, as every time they scored a basket, we answered on our own end. This was a great win for us on the road.”
Florida Tech will now have 10 days rest before its non-conference showdown with Flagler on Dec. 15 in St. Augustine, Florida.
Tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m. ET at Flagler Gymnasium.