Panthers Post Clutch Win Over Florida Southern

By  //  January 27, 2013

Chappell's Jumper Seals FIT Victory

Senior Jami Chappell sank a jump shot with 10 seconds remaining to help Florida Tech defeat Florida Southern in women’s basketball in Melbourne on Saturday. (Image courtesy of Florida Tech)

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Florida Tech trailed at halftime just two times this season before Saturday’s game, losing both contests. The Panthers were down two points to Florida Southern at the half today, but found the lead late in the game and held on to defeat the Moccasins, 52-48, in women’s basketball at the Clemente Center.

“In the first half, I thought Florida Southern was the better team on the floor,” head coach John Reynolds said. “We didn’t play well in the half, but we hung around and were only down two points.”

Florida Southern (8-9, 2-5 SSC) found itself with an 11-2 lead five minutes into the contest. Florida Tech (13-4, 5-2 SSC) opened the game going 1-of-7 from the field to trail by nine points. But then the Panthers made their move.

FIT cut the deficit to seven points, 20-13, with 8:29 remaining in the half. Melissa Echols swished a 3-pointer from the left corner, and then Ashley Hampton made a pair of layups to keep the Panthers within striking distance.

Over the next six minutes, FIT went on a 15-6 run to take its first lead of the game, 28-26, with 2:59 left in the half. Kayk Wilson went 5-for-5 from the charity stripe during the run. Wilson finished the game going 7-fo-7 from the free throw line.

The Mocs hit a layup just before the first half ended to take a 32-30 halftime lead.

Florida Southern held on to its lead for the opening 11 minutes of the second half, taking its largest lead at 40-35. With 8:30 remaining, redshirt freshman Peggy Smith, who was making her second start of the season, drained a 3-pointer to give the Panthers a 44-42 lead. But the Mocs quickly responded to tie the game at 44-44. The game remained tied at 44-44 over the next three minutes.

Then junior Ida Gustafsson hit a jumper off a feed from Rosie Hynes to give FIT a 46-44 lead. Less than a minute later, Hynes followed with her own bucket to push the lead to four.

Florida Southern hit a shot with 39 seconds remaining to trail the Panthers, 50-48. On FIT’s ensuing drive, Hynes ran the offense with a six second differential between the game and shot clock and the Mocs electing not to foul.

“When we ran the shot clock down on the last play, Rosie [Hynes] timed it perfectly,” Reynolds said. “We didn’t want to shoot the ball until there were two or three seconds left so we would have a chance for a rebound and a put back. [Hynes] got the ball to Jami [Chappell], and Jami made a big shot from about 12 feet out along the baseline.”

Chappell hit nothing but net to give the Panthers a 52-48 lead with 10 seconds remaining in regulation. Then Florida Southern missed a 3-point attempt as the buzzer sounded to give FIT its third-straight win in conference play.

The Panthers remain atop the Sunshine State Conference in a tie with No. 20 Nova Southeastern—who they beat in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday.

“The two freshmen that came off the bench for us, Morgan [Steinert] and Tiesha [Flagler], carried us for a two or three minutes stretch defensively,” Reynolds said. “Steinert is a smart basketball player that doesn’t take a bad shot. She did a great job filling in with Rita [Acevedo] out of the lineup due to a death in the family.”

The two freshmen combined for 27 minutes.

Gustafsson finished in double figures for the eighth-straight game with a team-high 11 points. Chappell and Wilson both collect nine points, while Hynes totaled eight.

FIT will head to Tampa on Wednesday, Jan. 30 to face the No. 25 Spartans. The game is set to tip off at 5:30 p.m. at Bob Martinez Athletics Center.