Lions Stop FIT Panthers In Overtime

By  //  January 20, 2013

Reid Adds Two More Steals

ST. LEO, FLORIDA – Florida Tech stormed back from a 16-point deficit at 21st-ranked Saint Leo, but the Lions prevailed 76-67 in overtime Saturday evening at the Marion Bowman Activities Center.

Florida Tech senior guard Julius Reid leads the nation in steals and had two more Saturday against St. Leo. (Image courtesy of Florida Tech)

The Panthers are now 7-7 overall and 1-4 in Sunshine State Conference play. The Lions, who were picked to win the SSC Championship in the league’s preseason poll, up their record to 12-3, 5-1 SSC.

“Although we were down by 13 at the half, I thought we played really good defensively,” Panthers head coach Billy Mims said. “We just played awful on the offensive end of the floor. At halftime, we talked about the need to play tough in the second half. We felt if we played tough, then we can get back into this game. This was the second game we trailed by 16 and fought back. This team once again showed it has character and heart.”

Saint Leo scored the first nine points of the game and pushed its lead to 16 late in the half. The Lions held a 33-20 lead at the break behind Marcus Ruh’s nine points. Chris Carter led the Panthers with six points in the first half. Terrance Tubbs came off the bench and pitched in five.

“I was happy with the play of our bench in the first half,” Mims said. “We pulled our starters with just over six minutes to play in the half. Kevin [Bolhuis] and Randy [Echols] gave us good minutes. Our starters answered the wake-up call in the second half. We played with confidence, a sense of urgency and intensity.”

FIT’s second half was a different story. Less than three minutes in, Carter’s three-point play cut the Lions’ lead down to six. Saint Leo responded and held a nine-point advantage with 8:35 to play. The tide, however, changed once more as the Panthers reeled off a 9-0 run to tie the game. The game remained close and Julius Reid’s jumper with 39 seconds left sent both teams into overtime.

The Lions never trailed in the extra period. Reid scored all seven of the Panthers’ points in the last five minutes. The nation’s steals per game leader had two and is now averaging 4.4 per game.

“We’ve proved that we can compete on the road,” Mims said. “We just need to find a way to win. Tonight, we missed 10 free throws and lost the game by nine. Some of those free throws were on the front end of one-and-ones. We also haven’t shot the ball well, but defensively we held Saint Leo to 39 percent shooting on its home floor.”

FIT will head to SSC counterpart Nova Southeastern on Wednesday for a 7:30 p.m. start against the Sharks.