Florida Tech Handles Business In London, 104-58 Beatdown Against Dagenham

By  //  August 15, 2015

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( Photo by Amanda Stratford. )
Turning the defense loose, and clicking on all cylinders the rest of the way, Florida Tech overpowered the Dagenham Dragons on its way to a 104-58 drubbing Friday night. (Photo by Amanda Stratford. )

LONDON, ENGLAND – For whatever reason, the Florida Tech Panthers have yet to solve their first quarter struggles throughout their time across the pond. One can only imagine what the final score would look like if they did. Turning the defense loose, and clicking on all cylinders the rest of the way, Florida Tech overpowered the Dagenham Dragons on its way to a 104-58 drubbing Friday night.

The Panthers registered a whopping 22 steals and notched double-digit three-pointers for the second consecutive game to improve to 4-1 in London.

Appearing as if they were just going through the motions, the Panthers conceded easy bucket after easy bucket early on. Add in seven turnovers on the offensive end, and from a fan’s perspective the contest seemed it’d be tight from start to finish.

However, the narrow 26-25 margin after the opening quarter soon turned into a Florida Tech highlight reel.

Billy Mims
Billy Mims

“It’s funny, it seems we have to sort of get our feet wet in the first quarter and learn a little bit about our opponent,” said head coach Billy Mims.

“I guess maybe part of the equation is that we’re playing people we’ve never seen before. We don’t know anything about them, and are going into these games blind. Maybe it’s that first 10 minutes we understand who we’re playing, what they’re capable of doing. But it seems once we’ve played 10 minutes, the next 30 seem to go very, very well for us defensively.”

“Once we come out that second quarter we seem focused, we seem intense. Again, I thought the second through the fourth quarters were outstanding,” said Mims.

Sparking the Panthers off the bench, Akeem Johnson struck for seven of his team-high 16 points to help turn the one-point lead to a 12 point advantage just three minutes into the second.

Akeem Johnson
Akeem Johnson

Johnson finished a perfect 6-of-6 from the field, including 2-of-2 from beyond the arc in the win.

Dagenham had no answer to Florida Tech’s on-ball activity all evening. Showing relentless pressure and trapping at any given opportunity, the Panthers defensive tenacity translated into a 57-35 lead at the break.

Florida Tech didn’t slow down in the second half either.

Corbin Jackson
Corbin Jackson

Back-to-back thunderous slams by Corbin Jackson made it a 30-point margin midway through the third. In what ultimately felt more and more like a lopsided NBA All-Star game by the end, Johnson then nearly tore the rim down to cap the period, bringing the bench to its feet.

Four Panthers scored in double-figures, as Rafael Casanova followed Thursday’s 21-point effort with a solid 15-point performance Friday. Redshirt sophomore Jordan Majors added 14 points and six steals, while Jackson tallied 11 points and six rebounds.

“I mean, again, we feel we have a team this year that’s going to have good depth,” said Mims. “We’re currently trying to play a lot of players, this is a training camp. This is a preseason tour. It’s about developing our team, developing chemistry, making sure they know how to play together. We’re searching for what rotations work best and what lineups work best in certain situations. I think we’ve been able to do that. We’ve been able to play a lot guys in a lot of games on the tour.”

“Tonight we had four players in double-figures, and two more with nine points. We were very close to having six or seven players in double-figure scoring tonight. That’s always a good thing.

You want to know you have a lot of fire power and a lot of weapons. The more weapons we have, the more problems our opponents have in defending us.”

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FIT last topped 100 points in a contest back on December 7, 2013 in a 103-81 rout of Lynn.

Mims and the Panthers will cap their London tour on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET against a familiar foe in the Leicester Riders. Prior to his 10 seasons on the FIT bench, Mims guided the Riders to the British Basketball League National Cup Championship in 2001.

Follow @FIT_MBB on Twitter for in-game updates throughout the matchup.

“It’s fitting the last game of the tour is against a BBL team, the top professional level of the British game. It is the NBA of England. The Leicester Riders have an outstanding organization, and have had a tremendous amount of success. They’re a team with a championship pedigree. We’ll have our work cut out. It’s going to be exciting. It’s going to be a great atmosphere.

“It’s been an outstanding tour for us. No matter what happens tomorrow, it’s certainly a huge benefit for us this year. Again, I’m thankful for our administration at Florida Tech of seeing the value in this for our basketball team and allowing us to make this wonderful journey. Bill Jurgens, Dr. McCay, Dr. Catanese, it’s a pleasure to work for people who understand the value of these type of experiences for our student-athletes.”