Titans Battle Back Against Halftime Deficit, Win 71-68
By Zach Clark // January 8, 2015
Moves to 2-0 in FCSAA Southern Conference
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Eastern Florida’s women’s basketball team shook off a 16-point first-half deficit to defeat St. Petersburg College 71-68 on Wednesday on the Melbourne Campus.
The victory improved Eastern Florida’s overall record to 11-5 and moved it to 2-0 in the FCSAA Southern Conference. Eastern Florida has won four straight games and all six at home.
St. Petersburg fell to 7-9 and 1-1.
Eastern Florida scored the game’s first points to lead 3-0 but St. Petersburg slowly wore the Titans down, racing from a 17-16 lead to its biggest advantage of the game, 41-25 with 2 minutes and three seconds to play in the first half.
The lead at the break was 41-28.
But Eastern Florida came out strong to start the second half and held St. Petersburg scoreless until the 13:38 mark in building a 44-41 lead.
The game then swung back and forth with Eastern Florida grabbing a 53-47 lead with 10:35 to play.
But St. Petersburg fought back to lead 56-53 with 6:40 to play and 60-57 with 5:03 to go.
From that point there were three ties before Eastern Florida put things away.
A basket by sophomore co-captain Jessica Doyle gave Eastern Florida a 65-63 lead with 1:36 to go. Freshman Crystal Townsend then sank a layup and a subsequent free throw for a 68-63 advantage; freshman Nene Johnson sank the last of her team-high 30 points with 32 seconds to play for a 70-63 lead and Doyle sealed it with a free throw with seven seconds on the clock for a 71-65 advantage.
Eastern Florida head coach Jim Grimes credited the Titans’ second-half opening run for making the difference.
“I talked a lot about playing with principles,” said Titans head coach Jim Grimes of his halftime speech. “And when everything goes haywire in life or basketball you have your principles. They’re non-negotiable.
“We didn’t play with our principles in the first half and we came out second half and played with our principles, especially defensively.
“Whatever that run we went on the beginning of the second half was the difference. We guarded them a lot better. We’ve got to learn to put 40 minutes together.”
As for Johnson’s performance: “She played great,” Grimes said. “She’s beyond her years right now. She was a leader tonight. Very aggressive tonight. More aggressive than we’ve seen her especially offensively.”
Johnson took things in stride.
“I was ready to play tonight, it was a big conference game,” she said. “I had to come through. We had to keep going, keep scoring. Keep our head in the game. We didn’t give up on ourselves.”
Doyle added 15 points for Eastern Florida and Townsend 10. Sophomore co-captain Rachelle Aupont pulled down 11 rebounds against the bigger and stronger St. Petersburg front line. Freshman Paola Vasquez recorded four steals and six rebounds.
Johnson had three assists and eight rebounds.
Next up for Eastern Florida is a 2 p.m. Saturday conference game against Miami Dade College in Kendall.
Eastern Florida returns home to face Broward College at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
Admission to Eastern Florida home games is free.