Florida Tech Panthers Suffer Home Loss to Palm Beach Atlantic 71-67

By  //  January 20, 2019

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Florida Tech riding a 5-game losing streak

The struggles continued for the Florida Tech men’s basketball team on Saturday as the Panthers let a second-half lead slip away and were defeated by Palm Beach Atlantic, 71-67, in SSC action at the Clemente Center. (FIT Image)

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA (Florida Tech) – The struggles continued for the Florida Tech men’s basketball team on Saturday as the Panthers let a second-half lead slip away and were defeated by Palm Beach Atlantic, 71-67, in SSC action at the Clemente Center.

The loss extends the Crimson & Gray’s losing streak to five games while Tech moves to 1-8 in conference play. The Sailfish improve to 4-5 in the league.

Despite the result, the Panther fans got to enjoy their first glimpse of newcomer, Sesan Russell, who just joined the team for the second leg of its season. Russell had some impressive plays versus the Sailfish and finished with a team-high 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting and three rebounds in his Florida Tech debut.

Derek Murphy recorded his seventh double-double of the campaign on 19 points and 11 rebounds, while Antonis Pefanis tallied 16 points and four boards. RJ Coil added 11 rebounds and three blocks before sustaining an injury in the second half.

Murphy and Pefanis got Florida Tech off to a great start as both players knocked down a pair of threes early on to give the Panthers a 12-5 advantage just 3:42 into the contest. The duo scored the first 17 points in the game for Tech.

The Panthers’ lead grew to six points following a steal by Coil that led to a strong take to the basket by Valsson and made the score 27-21 with 8:43 remaining in the first half.

A 9-2 run by the Sailfish gave them their first lead of the game, 30-29, with 3:34 to go before the intermission.

However, a layup by Russell with less than 30 seconds left in the first half handed Florida Tech a 31-30 advantage at halftime.

The teams went back-and-forth to start the second half, with six tied games occurring over the initial eight minutes of the period.

The Panthers led 46-45 after a lay-up by Pefanis with 9:43 to go. After that basket, the Sailfish ensued on a 13-3 run to grab a 58-49 advantage with just over six minutes left on the clock.

Tech answered with its own 10-3 scoring spree and trimmed the deficit to 61-59 following a three-point play by Russell with 2:58 remaining.

Bakari Warthen’s three-pointer with 1:08 to go increased PBA’s lead to 68-62, but Trey Schaneville responded with a three of his own on the Panthers’ ensuing possession to bring the margin back down to three.

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Florida Tech had the ball and an opportunity to tie the score with 32 seconds left in the game, but a turnover by Russell and then a foul by Schaneville allowed Warthen to go to the line for a chance to make it a two-possession game.

Warthen connected on both free throws to put PBA up 70-65 with 17 seconds remaining. Russell then hit two more free throws to decrease Tech’s deficit to three points with 11 seconds to go.

However, another made free throw by the Sailfish with only seconds remaining put the game out of reach as the Panthers dropped to 7-7 on their court this season.

Florida Tech made 46.2 percent (24-of-52) of its shots in the game, including 9-of-27 from three-point range, and 10-of-15 at the charity stripe. The Sailfish converted 37.3 percent (25-of-67) of their shot attempts and sank 6-of-22 from beyond the arc as well as 15-of-21 at the free throw line.

Turnovers were again the issue for the Panthers as they coughed up the ball 29 times in the game, leading to 33 points for PBA. Tech scored only eight points off the 20 turnovers by the Sailfish.

PBA concluded the matchup with an advantage in rebounding (39-37), points in the paint (38-28), second chance points (19-0), fast break points (10-7), and bench points (22-5).

Florida Tech travels to Winter Park, Florida next Wednesday, Jan. 23, for a showdown with SSC rival Rollins College. The Panthers and Tars are set to tip-off at 7:30 p.m. at the Alfond Sports Center.

For the latest news, updates and information on the Florida Tech men’s basketball team, visit FloridaTechSports.com

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