Florida Tech Falls To No. 10 Eckerd 69-56, Drops To 11-10 Overall
By Florida Tech // January 31, 2016
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Weeks ago, it was the Florida Tech defense that offered little to no resistance. Now that the defense has appeared to shore up its problems, the offense has slipped and struggled to stay in sync.
Despite limiting No. 10 Eckerd to 41.8 percent shooting, the Panthers only managed a season-low 56 points en route to a 69-56 loss at the Clemente Center Saturday evening.
Through its first 17 games of the season, Florida Tech ranked near the top of the Sunshine State Conference scoring at an 86.9 point-per-game clip, yet has failed to even reach the 70-point mark in three of its last four.
Looking to spring the upset of the Tritons, the Panthers converted just 34.4 percent from the floor, including 26.1 percent from beyond the arc, and didn’t help matters by attempting only 11 free throws in what has now become their sixth consecutive SSC defeat at home.
Kevin Walsh carried Eckerd in spurts to finish with a game-high 18 points and seven rebounds. Freshman Drushaun McLaurn added 13 points and seven rebounds off the bench, while E.J. Moody chipped in with 11 points of his own.
A key factor, though, was the unselfishness of the Triton bigs as the trio of Ray Darnell, Obi Kyei and Trevon Young combined for 11 of the team’s 18 assists in the ball game.
Sam Daniel responded well after receiving his first start in three contests for the Panthers. The Kingsland, Georgia native tallied 14 points, eight rebounds and a career-high three blocks in the effort.
Meanwhile, Corbin Jackson supplied 13 points and eight boards, but outside of those two, nobody else in the Florida Tech lineup ever really seemed to get going.
“Eckerd had three players in double-figures, we could only muster two,” said head coach Billy Mims.
“That lack of a third player in double-figures is probably the difference in the ball game.”
Florida Tech started steadily in the first half, and jumped out to an 11-7 advantage following a spinning drive and dish from Jordan Majors to Daniel for the easy deuce. Majors matched a career-high with seven assists on the night.
Another Daniel bucket extended the lead to as many as seven, but the switch soon turned on after what began as a cold 1-of-8 three-point shooting display by Eckerd.
Sparked by three Walsh treys, and five overall, the Tritons ran off 17 unanswered points over a span of six minutes to take control down the stretch of the first half with a double-digit cushion.
Lucky for the Panthers, Rafael Casanova drained a three-pointer as time expired to help them breathe a bit easier entering the break down just 32-25.
Florida Tech showed aggressiveness in getting to the basket in the opening moments of the second half. A pair of lay-ups by Jackson, and one by Daniel whittled the deficit down to four still with 14:29 to play.
That margin soon ballooned back to 11 before Florida Tech’s resiliency and 4-for-4 shooting surge helped it climb back to within two following a rapid 9-0 run.
The Panthers then had three straight chances to tie or take the lead, but failed to do so, and soon saw their chance to snap their home skid go by the wayside. A pair of turnovers and an unnecessary technical foul dug Florida Tech back into a 12-point hole in the blink of an eye.
From there, it was smooth sailing for the Tritons as they improved to a league-best 9-1 in the SSC.
“I don’t know what it is, I can’t quite put a finger on it,” said Mims.
“The turnovers were 14-13, not a big difference there, but the productivity difference of the turnovers was huge. Our 14 turnovers led to 20 Eckerd points. Their 13 turnovers only led to seven Florida Tech points. That’s huge.”
A successful 4-2 on the road this season, Florida Tech will look to add to that total when it travels to Nova Southeastern to square off with the Sharks Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. ET.