Florida Tech Falls In Season Opener To Auburn-Montgomery 71-65

By  //  November 10, 2018

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Next Game: Benedict College at Florida Tech – Saturday 6 p.m. ET

The Florida Tech men’s basketball team did not start its season off on the right foot, as the Panthers were dealt a 71-65 loss by Auburn-Montgomery during the first day of the South Region Tip-off Challenge at the Clemente Center. (FIT Image)

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – The Florida Tech men’s basketball team did not start its season off on the right foot, as the Panthers were dealt a 71-65 loss by Auburn-Montgomery during the first day of the South Region Tip-off Challenge at the Clemente Center.

The defeat came despite four Panthers scoring in double-figures. RJ Coil led the way with 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting to go along with four rebounds and three blocks. The senior also knocked down three treys in the game. Derek Murphy added 14 points on 6-of-13 shooting with seven rebounds.

Dwayne Orija notched 13 points and eight rebounds in his first game donning the Crimson & Gray, while Valur Valsson tallied 11 points and eight assists.

Florida Tech made 24-of-56 (.429) from the field and 8-of-23 (.348) from long distance. The Panthers had a tough time making the free ones in the game, though, hitting just 9-of-16 from the charity stripe.

AUM converted 24-of-52 (.462) of its shot attempts, including 6-of-17 (.353) from three-point range, and made 17-of-21 free throws.

The Panthers finished with more rebounds, 33-3, but had struggles controlling the ball during major stretches in the game. AUM took advantage and scored 25 points off the Tech turnovers, more than a third of its point total for the game.

The Warhawks’ depth also played a role in their win as their bench outscored Florida Tech’s reserves, 25-7.

The game started out slow for both teams as they tried to shake off the rust from the offseason. A layup by AUM’s Mikel Davis gave his team an 11-10 edge with 13:48 to go in the first half.

The Panthers answered with an 8-0 run and grabbed an 18-11 lead, Tech’s largest of the game, with 11:27 left in the half.

The Warhawks cut the margin to 25-24 on a jumper by Kenneth Keith with 5:17 remaining. However, a jumper by Murphy and a trey by Darius Wright pushed the Panthers’ advantage back to six points, 30-24, at the four-minute mark.

Turnovers began to plague the Panthers late in the first half and AMU took advantage of the opportunities, outscoring Florida Tech 15-6 to take a 39-36 lead at the break.

After the Warhawks increased their lead to six on a three by Darrion Taylor, the Panthers answers with six straight points to tie the contest at 42-42 with 16:23 remaining in the second half.

Murphy’s jumper with less than eight minutes to go capped an impressive 13-2 burst by the Panthers that gave them a 58-51 advantage.

At this point, the turnovers and sloppy play, which haunted the Crimson & Gray late in the first half, began to rear their ugly heads again during the later stages of the second half.

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The Panthers proceeded to go five straight offensive trips with no points, allowing the Warhawks to chip away at the lead and build momentum for a late-game push.

AUM would go on to outscore Tech, 20-7, the final 7:12 of the second half and escaped with a 71-65 win on the Panthers’ home court.

Florida Tech will have the opportunity to bounce back quickly on Saturday as the Panthers host Benedict College in the final game of the South Region Tip-off at 6 p.m. at the Clemente Center.

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