Florida Tech Women’s Hoops Complete Season Sweep With Victory Over Eckerd 62-55

By  //  January 31, 2016

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Trailing Eckerd 16-13 at the end of 10 minutes, a dominant second quarter turned out to be the difference for the Panthers as they held off the Tritons 62-55 Saturday night. (FIT Image)

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – For the second time in as many games, Florida Tech entered its Sunshine State Conference matchup with Eckerd looking to complete a season sweep over a league opponent after earning the accomplishment on Wednesday in a narrow victory over Tampa.

Trailing Eckerd 16-13 at the end of 10 minutes, a dominant second quarter turned out to be the difference for the Panthers as they held off the Tritons 62-55 Saturday night.

The result gives FIT (14-5, 8-2 SSC) its fourth straight win and sole possession of second place in the conference. EC (10-8, 5-5 SSC), on the other hand, moves to .500 in league play and a tie for fifth in the SSC with Tampa.

The Panthers’ defense and dominance on the glass continues to key their victories. FIT’s 22 points off 22 Triton turnovers, in addition to its 17 second-chance points from 18 offensive boards, was too much to overcome, despite EC shooting 45 percent in the game and hitting 7-of-13 from beyond the arc.

DeLise Williams

DeLise Williams

DeLise Williams paced the Panther offense for the second game in a row, notching a team-high 15 points, four rebounds and two steals. The sophomore did much of her damage at the line where she made 9-of-11, including 7-of-9 during the final period alone, to help her team hold off the Tritons.

Tiesha Flagler registered her fifth double-digit performance in six games, adding 11 in this one, to go along with three rebounds and two steals. Diamond Cooper also reached double-figures, tallying 10 points and four boards, while Kailyn Ebb continued her strong play as of late, finishing just short of a double-double with nine points and 12 boards.

It was a back-and-forth first quarter as both teams began the game struggling from the field. Margaret Sundberg’s layup with less than two minutes left in the stanza gave EC a 14-11 edge. Two Triton free throws later and it was a six point game with 45 seconds remaining. However, a pull-up jumper by Shequana Harris at the 30-second mark brought the score to 16-13 at the end of one.

FIT’s defense then showed why it was one of the top in the SSC by forcing Eckerd into nine turnovers and just one field goal and four points in the second quarter.

On the Tritons opening possession, Harris stole the ball and found Williams open for an easy lay-in to make it a one point game just 20 seconds into the quarter. Sundberg converted one at the line to increase EC’s lead to two, but that however turned out to be her team’s final time ahead in the game.

Julie McCarthy

Julie McCarthy

Flagler tied it up less than two minutes later, and a three-point play by Julie McCarthy gave FIT a 20-17 lead with 4:03 left on the clock. Sundberg tried to stop the Panthers’ run with her deep trey to make it two-point game, but two conversions at the line by Williams extended the Panthers’ advantage to six as the teams went into the break with a score of 26-20.

At the half, both teams had collected 18 rebounds with Florida Tech having an even split on offensive and defensive boards. EC had 13 turnovers compared to just five by FIT.

Seven different Panthers contributed to the 26 first half points, led by six from Flagler and five from Harris. Just four Tritons registered on the scoreboard with Sundberg and Anna Deegan tallying 14 of their team’s 20 points.

It was pretty evenly played in the second half with both teams going basket-for-basket. The Tritons picked up their shooting in the second half, making 50 percent from the field and 4-of-7 from three-point range. EC got to within four points of tying the game several times in the third and fourth quarters, but they were never able to get over the hump as the Panthers continued to out-effort their opponent in all areas.

Thanks to nine turnovers in the second half by the Tritons, FIT was able to build its advantage to as many as 12 in the waning moments of the game as it defeated Eckerd for the second time this season.

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Harris continues to play well in limited minutes after tallying eight points to go along with two boards, two assists and two steals, while McCarthy finished with five points and eight boards.

Sundberg led EC in scoring with 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting, including 2-of-2 from deep. Anna Deegan added 11 points on 3-of-5 from beyond the arc and four rebounds and Ashley Folsom had 10 points and four boards.

Florida Tech hits the road Wednesday for its rematch with 12th-ranked Nova Southeastern at 5:30 p.m. ET in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The Panthers were narrowly defeated by then-No. 3 NSU 75-73 on Nov. 24. In that meeting, FIT held a 60-48 edge after three quarters before the Sharks outscored them 27-13 in the fourth to pull out the win.

Paul Van Scott will have the call from the Don Taft University Center.’

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