Panthers Cruise By Bears, Improve To 10-0
By Florida Tech Athletic Communications // December 20, 2014
Return to action on Jan. 3
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – It was just that sort of a game for Florida Tech on Saturday.
The Panthers (10-0) seemingly couldn’t miss for large stretches of the game and were able to ride a quick start to easily outpace Shaw (7-5) on the final day of the CarMax Holiday Tournament at the Clemente Center.
“I don’t think we could have played a better first half than we did,” said head coach John Reynolds.
“It wasn’t just because we made shots and held the tempo. Yesterday we didn’t rebound very well defensively, we had 14 defensive rebounds the whole game and today we had 17 at the half. When we can rebound on that end and get it out we’re going to put points up on the board because we have several kids who can score.”
The game could not have started much better for the Panthers, who scored 25 of the game’s first 28 points, 16 of which came from senior guard Kayk Wilson.
From there, FIT was able to hold the Bears at bay for the entire first half, with Shaw never getting closer than within 21 and the lead expanding to as much as 33 points. At the break the Panthers were comfortably ahead 54-23.
Wilson was spraying in shots left and right, hitting anything from open threes to step back jumpers to runners in the lane. In the opening frame the Rockledge native hit 8 of her 13 shot attempts and drilled five of her nine shots from long-range.
Jasmire Brown, hot on the heels of an excellent performance yesterday, added 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting despite battling a fairly severe illness.
Another key to the Panthers’ success in the first half was the defense of Julie McCarthy and Kaila Callender, who held 6-4 center Verdine Warner relatively in check, much to the pleasure of Reynolds.
“She’s a player. I said before the game, if we hold her to her average we just need to stop everybody else and we did. We did a great job defending the perimeter. We made all of her touches hard to get in the first half,” said the Panther head coach.
It would be fair to expect that with the bench getting more playing time in the second half of the blowout contest that the Panthers may have slowed down a bit.
That, however, was definitely not the case. The final stanza opened much the same way that the first half played out, with Shequana Harris hitting a wide-open Brown for a three.
Although FIT was able to keep its tenacious level of pace, the defense lagged a bit and the Bears were able to get some shots to go. While Shaw made just over 18 percent of its shots in the first half, the Bears were able to hit a respectable 55.6 percent from the field in the second.
Warner found her touch in the second half and showed why she is a matchup nightmare, making 7-of-11 shots for 16 points and 11 rebounds.
When it came down to it, though, the Bears just didn’t have enough firepower to overcome the Panthers.
Harris took matters into her own hand to make sure Shaw wouldn’t have any comeback plans, scoring 12 second half points on 5-of-9 from the field and dishing out a pair of assists.
Along with Brown’s nine and Wilson’s seven points in the second frame, Harris’s efforts were enough to deliver the victory for the Panthers and give FIT a pleasant gift before the holidays.
Wilson was named MVP of the CarMax Holiday Tournament following her 31-point, four steal performance. Harris was named to the all-tournament team after scoring 14 points, tallying four assists and snagging three steals.
Brown joined her on the all-tournament squad, earning the spot with 21 points and five boards.
For the second game in a row, McCarthy set her career-best with seven rebounds to lead the Panthers, while also swatting two Bears shots.Tiesha Flagler tied the center from Norway with seven boards of her own, while BreAnn Davis, grabbed six rebounds.
For the second game in a row Warner dumbfounded the opposing defense, recording 27 points and 19 rebounds. Micah Brooks was the only other Bear to score in double-figures, seizing 12 while also finding open scorers for three assists
FIT will not compete again before the New Year as the Panthers will return to action on Jan. 3, 2015 at Saint Leo to re-open Sunshine State Conference Play.