Florida Tech Seniors Go Out In Style On Senior Night, Defeats Palm Beach Atlantic 94-79
By Florida Tech // February 25, 2016
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – It’s no secret Florida Tech has had its share of ups and downs throughout the year, but when it boiled down to Senior Night, the Panthers made sure to finish in style.
Head coach Billy Mims’ club erased a double-digit halftime deficit by shooting a scorching 61.8 percent in the second half en route to a 94-79 runaway victory over Palm Beach Atlantic in the regular season finale.
“We had to find a half where we just outworked them,” said Mims.
“I thought we did that in the second half of the basketball game. We got after it and raised the tempo right away in the first couple of minutes. The guys just dug deep.”
Florida Tech celebrated its five seniors prior to tip-off, however it was sophomore point guard Pat Anderson that took the reins in the Panthers’ comeback.
Anderson poured in 20 of his game-high 23 points in the final 20 minutes, accounting for four of Florida Tech’s 10 three-point field goals after the break.
The ending was also fitting for Corbin Jackson, who walked off the Clemente Center floor one final time with 18 points, nine rebounds, five blocks and a number of electrifying dunks. The two-time Sunshine State Conference Defensive Player of the Year voiced his appreciation for his time at Florida Tech in the postgame conference.
“You win games, you lose games, you make great plays over the course of your career, but the best thing you could possibly do is build camaraderie with a group of guys that love you just as much as you love them,” he said.
“I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”
Sam Daniel added 13 points and seven boards, while Randy Echols put together a typical “Randy Echols-like effort” with 12 points on 4-of-8 from beyond the arc.
Mims displayed a kind gesture by starting all five seniors Wednesday night, and couldn’t have been much more pleased with the performance he received from the ill-used lineup.
Fan favorite Nigel Alexander, Jr. injected life into the crowd with back-to-back buckets in the early going as the Panthers trailed by only a deuce following the game’s first six minutes.
Perhaps Mims was onto something, though, because after inserting his usual five onto the court, Florida Tech was still unable to cut into Palm Beach Atlantic’s slim margin.
In fact, the Sailfish actually extended their cushion to 41-33 on a Malek Barber trey with 53 seconds to play in the opening stanza, and eventually entered the halftime locker room up 45-35 despite just 34.3 percent shooting from the floor.
The Panthers quickly put the slow start in the back of their minds, reeling off a 15-4 run less than four minutes into the second half.
Moments after an Anderson lay-up drew Florida Tech to within one, Echols drained a three from the corner to give the home team its first advantage of the ball game, 55-53.
Once in front, the Panthers fed off the crowd’s energy to build a 65-55 lead when Jermhon Queen spotted Jackson on a slip to the bucket for an easy two-handed slam.
Daniel then joined in on the act with consecutive three-point baskets as Florida Tech’s once-stagnant offense couldn’t be stopped. The Panthers’ 59 points scored in the second half marked their second-highest total in a half this season, trailing only their 61-point output after halftime against Lynn on Jan. 2.
Alexander tied a career-high with six points in 12 minutes of action his first career start.
On another positive note, FIT remained in the hunt for an SSC Tournament berth following losses by both Florida Southern and Tampa.
The Panthers now just need either the Mocs or the Spartans to fall Saturday to clinch a spot in next Wednesday’s quarterfinal round.