Florida Tech Drops Second Straight Game, Falls To Palm Beach Atlantic 78-71
By Florida Tech // January 10, 2016
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA– Momentum was riding high early in the second half of Saturday afternoon’s contest when a four-plus minute scoring drought changed the entire temperament of the game. Up by as many as 11 points, Florida Tech was unable to take care of business, falling 78-71 on the road at Palm Beach Atlantic for the second consecutive season.
Freshman Bakari Warthen led the way for the Sailfish with 21 points, six rebounds and six steals, all team-highs.
Meanwhile, Osandai Vaughn chipped in with 14 points off the bench for a Palm Beach Atlantic squad that outscored the Panthers 38-18 in the paint and converted 21 Florida Tech turnovers into 24 crucial points.
“Tonight, I thought they played a lot harder and a lot smarter than our kids did,” said head coach Billy Mims.
“We just didn’t have the fire in us. We don’t play tough enough, mean enough, hungry enough. You have to have that killer instinct. You have to have something that says ‘Okay, let’s put the dagger in’. It’s historic for us to come here and blow big leads on the road and we did it again today.”
Florida Tech point guard Pat Anderson shook a mini-slump in a big way with a career-high 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting to go along with Sam Daniel’s 14. Jordan Majors added 11 points, but was cooled off after averaging 25 over the last two games.
Palm Beach Atlantic opted to zone Florida Tech on the defensive end the majority of the afternoon. The move by Sailfish head coach David Balza gave the Panthers fits in the opening minutes as they were held scoreless 4:13 into the ball game.
However, the Panthers soon settled in by draining four of their first seven treys and opened up a 16-9 advantage following a Randy Echols corner three ball.
Similar to Wednesday night versus Saint Leo, though, turnovers plagued the Panthers on a number of occasions. With seven turnovers committed just over 10 minutes into the contest, the Sailfish soon reclaimed the lead 23-20.
Palm Beach Atlantic would eventually build a seven-point cushion thanks to a 5-of-10 start from deep, but Anderson’s third triple of the first half soon put the Panthers back in front with 4:03 remaining in the opening period.
Both clubs traded baskets down the stretch of the first half. Yet, in just his fifth appearance of the season, Max Fischer drained a jumper from the top of the key to beat the buzzer to give the Panthers the slim 36-35 edge heading into halftime.
The locker room lead was Florida Tech’s first since Dec. 14, despite converting just 33.3 percent from the field.
Anderson continued his sweet shooting to begin the second half. As part of a 12-4 run, the sophomore tallied five points in the opening possessions to stretch Florida Tech’s advantage quickly to 48-39.
That margin expanded to 11 just moments later, but just as quickly as they’d jumped in front, the Panthers saw their lead erased. Over a 4:35 scoreless spurt, Florida Tech missed all five of its shot attempts. In contrast, the Sailfish hit 4-of-6 from the floor, getting to the bucket with ease time and time again.
Feeding off the energy of the home crowd, Palm Beach Atlantic captured its first lead since the opening seconds of the second half on a Malek Barber lay-in at the 8:01 point, and never looked back.
“When they started fighting back, we never matched their intensity or passion,” said Mims. “They played with a real positive attitude, and they played as a team.
Every time we seemed to do something right to give ourselves a chance, we’d shoot ourselves in the foot. Right now, we’re not playing with a lot of confidence. Offensively, we’re just sloppy with the basketball, but our biggest problem is that we don’t defend. It just comes down to effort.”
The seven-point loss by the Panthers marks the first time this season they’ve suffered back-to-back defeats.
Battling an illness, Corbin Jackson notched eight points and eight rebounds in the effort, attempting just a season-low four field goals.
FIT will jump back into SSC action Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. ET in a home meeting with Rollins. Live coverage will be available at FloridaTechSports.com/live.