Panthers Miss Opportunity Against Florida Southern

By  //  February 24, 2013

FIT Hosts Nova Southeastern On Wednesday

LAKELAND, FLORIDA – Florida Tech found itself down just three points with under one minute remaining in regulation despite scoring a season-low 14 first-half points. But the Panthers couldn’t connect on a game-tying shot down the final stretch as Florida Southern held on to win, 60-53, on Saturday in Lakeland.

Florida Tech sophomore Kayk Wilson had a game-high 22 points in the Panthers’ road loss Saturday to Florida Southern. (Image courtesy of Florida Tech)

“That was without a doubt the flattest we have played all season,” FIT head coach John Reynolds said. “You can’t shoot 19-of-64 for 29 percent from the field, 4-of-24 for 3’s and 44 percent from the free-throw line and tell me the kids were focused. [Florida] Southern gave us every opportunity in the last two minutes to win the game and we didn’t hit the shots.”

Florida Tech (16-8, 8-6 SSC) struggled from the field in the first half, shooting just 4-of-21 from the field for a season-low 14 points. Despite the low point total, the Panthers only found themselves down nine points at the break. Although Florida Southern finished the half shooting 50 percent, it only made 10 shots from the field to take a 23-14 lead at halftime.

The Moccasins (10-15, 4-10 SSC) never trailed in the contest, taking their largest lead of 11 points at 30-19 with 16:04 left in the second half.

Over the next four minutes, FIT cut Florida Southern’s lead down to four points, 31-27. Sophomore Kayk Wilson capped the 8-1 run with a 3-pointer on a pass from junior Rita Acevedo.

Florida Southern worked its way back to a 10-point lead, 44-34, with 5:10 remaining in the second half, but Acevedo responded with a 3-pointer and then a layup to cut the deficit to 44-39 with 4:32 on the clock.

With 1:13 remaining, Wilson buried a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 55-51 and then the Panthers began to put the Moccasins at the free-throw line with quick fouls.

Florida Southern, who hit just three of its last 10 free throws, missed the front end of the double bonus. The Moccasins hit the second free throw to take a 56-51 lead.

The Panthers missed their ensuing 3-point shot and then fouled Mariah Harris, who had missed four of her last six foul shots. Harris missed both shots and Wilson followed with a layup at the other end to cut Florida Southern’s lead to 56-53 with 51 seconds left in regulation.

Again Harris was fouled, but this time she made both free throws to extend the Moccasins’ lead to 58-53.

The Panthers were unable to connect on another shot over the final 40 seconds despite Florida Southern missing another pair of free throws. The Moccasins extended their lead to 60-53 with three seconds left to hold on for the victory.

FIT has lost four-straight games since beating Eckerd in St. Petersburg on Feb. 9.

Wilson finished with a game-high 22 points, while Acevedo scored 19 points with nine rebounds, four assists and seven steals.

The Panthers will return home for their final two regular season games.

They will welcome Nova Southeastern on Wednesday, Feb. 27 for “Make-A-Wish” night. FIT will square off with the Sharks at 5:30 p.m