Florida Tech Fall In Opening Home Conference Contest Against Saint Leo 99-94

By  //  January 7, 2016

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Second halves have been kind to Florida Tech thus far this season, it’s the first halves that have seemingly been the issue. Wednesday night was no different, as the Panthers clawed back to within one after falling behind by 13 at halftime, but eventually dropped a 99-94 bout at home to Sunshine State Conference foe Saint Leo. (FIT Image)

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Second halves have been kind to Florida Tech thus far this season, it’s the first halves that have seemingly been the issue. Wednesday night was no different, as the Panthers clawed back to within one after falling behind by 13 at halftime, but eventually dropped a 99-94 bout at home to Sunshine State Conference foe Saint Leo.

Back at the Clemente Center with an opportunity to reach 4-1 in the conference, Florida Tech had no answer for Saint Leo’s guards Marcus Dewberry and Tyreece Brice. Together the two combined for 57 points, including a career-high 34 points on 13-of-21 shooting by Dewberry, who entered the night as the league’s seventh-leading scorer.

Jordan Majors collected his first career double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds for the Panthers, while Jermohn Queen added 19 points of his own in his second consecutive start at point guard.

Corbin Jackson registered 12 points and 17 boards to pick up his eighth double-double, but went all for not in the first of six straight SSC contests at the Clemente Center.

Billy Mims

Billy Mims

“When you spend so much energy coming back, you’re going to run out of gas at some point,” said head coach Billy Mims.

“Tonight’s game seemed like a carbon copy of the Arkansas Tech game. You just can’t dig yourselves a hole like we did. It’s been a problem all year. We’re losing games because of the effort we’re putting on the floor in the first half. Tonight’s result was very disappointing.”

A lack of defense out of the starting block permitted the Lions to pour in 11 points less than three minutes into the ball game and claim a quick 11-6 advantage.

The hot shooting would continue as Saint Leo used one of five treys on the night from Dewberry to extend its lead to 24-16 at the midway point of the opening stanza.

Queen put forth his best effort to keep the Panthers close, though. The junior converted four of his first eight shot attempts in the early going to allow Florida Tech to remain within seven.

Still, the Panthers were never able to establish any sort of a rhythm in the first 20 minutes. Nine turnovers, coupled by Saint Leo’s sizzling 57.1 percent shooting from the field landed the Panthers in a 49-36 hole at the break.

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Limited to just three points in the first half, Jackson tallied six points in the opening moments after halftime to cut the deficit to single digits with 17:20 to play.

Florida Tech inched even closer on a runner in the lane by Majors, and trailed by just one following a pair of Isaac Spence free throws. Yet, as he seemed to do all night, Dewberry lifted the Lions with a devastating three on the other end to stretch their cushion back out to four.

Still down four at the 2:20 mark in regulation, the Panthers missed back-to-back wide open looks from beyond the arc that ultimately sealed their fate as Dewberry and company pulled even at 3-3 in the SSC with the victory.

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Randy Echols recorded 11 points off the bench, connecting on 3-of-5 from deep to go along with Sam Daniel’s nine-point and six-rebound performance on his birthday.

The Panthers beat up Saint Leo on the glass, outrebounding the Lions by a 46-34 margin, but were doomed by the visitors’ 25 points off turnovers.

“I thought Saint Leo brought tremendous pressure on us tonight,” said Mims.

“They played hard, got after it early, and we just did a poor job in the early stages of the game at handling that pressure.”

FIT will look to rebound in a regional matchup on the road against provisional SSC member Palm Beach Atlantic Saturday at 4 p.m. ET.

Live coverage will be available, courtesy of the Sailfish, at FloridaTechSports.com.


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