Panthers Use Free Throw Line To Sneak Pass Tampa, 62-57

By  //  January 11, 2015

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Kayk Wilson delivers 27-pts

ayk Wilson’s 27-point effort guided the Panthers to a 62-57 win over Tampa Saturday. (Photo by Amanda Stratford.)

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – With the Sunshine State Conference stacked with talent from top to bottom, it’s no surprise No. 23 Florida Tech has found itself in tense moments throughout the first three games of conference play.

Not ideal, but fans can’t complain as the Panthers keep finding ways to pull them out. Behind a game-high 27 points from Kayk Wilson, and another 18 from Jasmire Brown, the Panthers willed their way to a 62-57 win over No. 21 Tampa at home Saturday afternoon.

“Our games with Tampa are always battles,” said head coach John Reynolds following Florida Tech’s 13th consecutive win. “Any win in conference is big though.”

Kayk Wilson
Kayk Wilson

It was evident from the get-go today would belong to Kayk Wilson, after she drilled back-to-back three-point buckets to put the Panthers out in front 8-0 just slightly over two minutes into the ballgame.

However, a tightly called contest sent starters Tiesha Flagler and Shequana Harris both to the bench with two fouls apiece before either could even break a sweat.

In her best attempt to help Florida Tech shoot its way out of the foul trouble, Wilson hit her third triple in three attempts to push the Crimson and Gray ahead 15-9 at the 12:51 mark in the opening half.

Tampa found itself in the double bonus just 19 seconds later. The quick whistles forced Reynolds to shuffle a total of 12 players in and out in the first half alone.

With 9:52 remaining, a crafty inbounds pass off the backside of a Spartan defender was laid in for a three-point play by Brown to extend the Panther advantage to 20-11.

Forcing Tampa into 13 costly first-half turnovers, Florida Tech entered the break up double-digits at 33-22.

John Reynolds
John Reynolds

“Turnovers were the difference,” said head coach John Reynolds. “I think that’s just putting pressure on players. They were consistently rebounding their misses and putting them in, so we had no choice but to find a way to take it away from them.”

Having missed nine straight from beyond the arc over the past two games, Brown broke through with a three to extend the Panther lead to 15 with 16:24 to play.

Juliana Cavallaro
Juliana Cavallaro

Capping a 17-6 run by the Spartans, two-time SSC Player of the Week Juliana Cavallaro drained one from deep to cut the deficit back to four midway through the second half.

With under two minutes to play, FIT’s lead had dwindled to two when point guard Morgan Steinert stripped Tampa’s Karma Jeremie on one end and then skipped the ball ahead to Wilson who completed an emphatic three-point play, making the score 60-55.

Two more free throws by Wilson in the waning moments finished off the Spartans. As a team, FIT converted 15-of-16 from the line on the afternoon.

“Every game from here on out will probably come down to free throws down the stretch,” added Reynolds. “I bet the last minute of conference games, 80-90 percent of our points will come from the line. Our free throw shooting was huge today.”

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FIT travels to Miami Shores Wednesday for a road showdown with Barry beginning at 5:30 p.m.

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