Florida Tech Returned To Action, Falls to Stetson 77-61

By  //  December 30, 2014

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Return to action Saturday vs. St. Leo 4 P.M.


Playing for the first time since Dec. 20, Florida Tech lost its last exhibition of the season to Stetson 77-61 Tuesday afternoon at the Edmunds Center. ( FIT image )

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Playing for the first time since Dec. 20, Florida Tech lost its last exhibition of the season to Stetson 77-61 Tuesday afternoon at the Edmunds Center.

Although the game didn’t count for the Panthers, it did count for the Hatters, who snapped a five-game winless streak to improve to 4-10 on the season.

Akeem Johnson scored 15 second-half points and finished with a game-high 19. He went 4-of-9 from the field, 1-of-1 from the three-point arc and 10-of-11 from the free throw line.

Jermaine Jackson, held to just 3-of-15 shooting, had eight points. Sam Daniel, who entered shooting 69-percent, was 3-of-10 for eight points. Corbin Jackson, averaging 14.6 points per game, also had eight points in 30 minutes.

“I’m really proud of this group,” head coach Billy Mims said. “There’s a lot of things we did well today. Corey Williams, Stetson’s head coach, came over to me after the game and said ‘Coach Mims, you have a really good basketball team. Two things hurt you today. You had to go with a different lineup because you didn’t have Jordan Majors and you didn’t have a lot of preparation.’

Chris Carter

Chris Carter had an all-around solid game, contributing 10 points, eight rebounds, five assists, five steals and a block.

“We played back on Dec. 20 against Claflin. NCAA Division II has a mandatory winter break. We had off starting Dec. 21 and couldn’t come back to practice until Dec. 29. It was very classy of Stetson’s head coach to recognize those two factors.”

FIT connected on three consecutive three-pointers to turn a 36-22 game into a 36-31 deficit with 59 seconds left in the first half. Looking to milk the clock for one last shot, Stetson’s Cameron Harvey snagged a bad pass to set up a 5-0 Hatters run in the final 12.5 seconds.

Grant Lozoya converted a three-point play with 1.6 ticks on the clock as Stetson held a 41-31 lead at the break.

Carter began the second half by picking Lozoya’s pocket and drawing a shooting foul. He hit both of his free throws to make it an eight-point game 24 seconds into the new period. Cameron Harvey’s three-pointer extended Stetson’s lead to 11 before Daniel threw down a one-handed dunk off a dish from Carter to make it a nine-point game.

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Stetson’s Kentwan Smith answered with another three-pointer and the Hatters led by double figures for the final 18:18. Wyatt Sikora, a 6-foot-11 freshman, scored nine-second half points to finish with 11.

His brother, 7-footer Kyle Sikora, totaled a career-high 15 points. The two Sikora’s helped Stetson outscore FIT in the paint 36-24.

Billy Mims
Billy Mims

“I thought those bigs did a lot of damage inside,” Mims said. “There were three things that really hurt us – points in the paint dominated by Stetson 36-24, rebounding dominated 46-27 and poor shooting. We shot 26-percent in the second half. One bright spot was we went 19-of-23 from the line. Stetson got to the line and went 14-of-19.”

Fifteen Panthers played in the game with six totaling double digits in minutes played.

“Everyone played today except for Jordan Majors,” Mims said. “We played on ESPN3 for the second time in the program’s history. … The turning point of the game might have been the last 16 seconds of the first half.

The end of the first half swung the momentum. We cut it to eight and then Stetson went on an 8-2 run. Once you’re down 16 on the road, you can’t afford to trade baskets with them and that’s what we did the rest of the game.”

The Panthers will resume Sunshine State Conference play albeit briefly on Saturday at Saint Leo. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m. or 30 minutes after the 2 p.m. women’s game concludes.

Following the game, FIT will return to the Clemente Center to host Palm Beach Atlantic in a non-conference tilt on Tuesday, Jan. 6 at 7:30 p.m.

Live video, audio and stats will be available for both games at FloridaTechSports.com.