Panthers Seize Much-Needed Men’s Basketball Victory

By  //  February 3, 2013

FIT Hosts Palm Beach Atlantic Wednesday

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – A sense of relief and excitement spread throughout Florida Tech’s men’s basketball team when the final buzzer sounded on Saturday, signaling an 83-81 win over Barry at the Clemente Center.

Jermaine Jackson led Florida Tech with 28 points in a Sunshine State Conference victory over Barry on Saturday. (Image courtesy of Florida Tech)

The win couldn’t have come at a better time. The Panthers had lost four straight and went 1-7 in the first half of Sunshine State Conference play. However, redemption was on their minds after losing to the Buccaneers in overtime, 86-80, to open league play on Jan. 2.

After Barry led by six points with 17:13 remaining, FIT fought back and held a seven-point advantage with 10:48 on the clock. In the final nine minutes and 31 seconds, the largest lead was only three points and it occurred on two occasions.

With 38 seconds remaining, the nation’s steals per game leader Julius Reid swiped his fourth steal of the game and quickly found Chris Carter for a layup to put the Panthers up 80-79. Carter had a chance to complete a three-point play, but his free throw was off the mark.

On the next possession, Terrance Tubbs came through with a huge block on a layup by Magne Fivelstad. He rebounded the rejection and was immediately fouled. He hit both free throws to give his team a little more breathing room.

The relief didn’t last long as Filvestad hit a jump shot to make it a one-point game. Jermaine Jackson was fouled on the following play and he went 1-of-2 at the line.

Down by two, Barry’s Justin McCoy dribbled the ball the length of the floor with eight seconds left and missed a runner. Aaron Martin tried to tip-in the shot attempt, but it was off the mark and the buzzer set off a celebration among the Panthers and their fans.

“I thought we did a great job executing our game plan,” head coach Billy Mims said. “We came in here knowing Barry University turns the ball over more than any other team in the conference. Because of that tendency, we wanted to get after the basketball.

“I call our kids the comeback kids. We had to come from behind after being down by six points with 18 minutes to go in the second half. They have so much heart. All night long, I thought we deserved to win the basketball game because we played so well. For a young basketball team, this was a huge win tonight.”

Jackson finished with 28 points, which was four points off his career-high. He shot 65 percent (11-of-17) from the field. Carter rebounded from a tough shooting night on Wednesday with 24 points, a career-high nine steals, four assists, two rebounds and he committed just one turnover.

Tubbs nearly recorded his second double-double in two games with 15 points, nine rebounds, an FIT career-high eight assists, three steals and one turnover. Reid had seven points with eight assists, four steals and three rebounds.

Following the game, Mims presented Barry’s interim head coach Orlando Gonzalez with a check in the amount of $727 for the Cesar Odio Leukemia Foundation. Odio, the Buccaneers’ head coach, is currently battling Leukemia for the second time after being diagnosed last April.

The Panthers started raising money last Saturday during Coaches vs. Cancer Suits and Sneakers weekend. Since then, fans have had the opportunity to donate directly to the foundation and bid on silent auction items during games.

FIT will briefly step out of SSC action for the last time this regular season on Wednesday when it welcomes Palm Beach Atlantic to the Clemente Center for a 7 p.m. tip-off.