Florida Tech Panthers Upset No. 7 Florida Southern for First Conference Win of the Season

By  //  January 3, 2019

Murphy, Coil both notch double-doubles in the win

Antonis Pefanis scored a game-high 21 points to go along with four rebounds, two assists, and two steals. (Image by Florida Tech)

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Florida Tech started the New Year by shocking the Division II basketball landscape. In a dominant performance, the Panthers defeated No. 7 Florida Southern, 77-59, for their first SSC win Wednesday at the Clemente Center.

It is Florida Tech’s first win over a Top-10 team since defeating No. 7 Barry almost one year ago, on Jan. 6, 2018.

Antonis Pefanis scored a game-high 21 points to go along with four rebounds, two assists, and two steals.

Derek Murphy and RJ Coil both notched double-doubles in the win. Murphy had 20 points and 13 rebounds while Coil went for 18 points and 14 boards. Valur Valsson added 10 points and five assists.

It was a back-and-forth start to the contest before the Panthers made their big run to open up the game early one. Coil scored four points in the opening minutes, all from the charity stripe, and FSC’s Jonathan Lawton hit a three-pointer to give the game its second tie at 8-8 with 15:39 left.

Tech then went on a 25-7 run, capped by a Coil layup off an assist from Valsson, and grabbed a 33-15 advantage with 5:34 remaining in the first half.

Darius Wright’s assist to a Mekhii Noble lay-in then gave the Panthers an 18-point lead, their largest of the first half, with 1:32 to go. Turnovers allowed the Mocs to cut the margin to 39-25 at halftime.

The Florida Tech defense limited FSC to just 9-of-26 shooting (35%) in the first half. The Crimson and Gray made 48 percent (13-of-27) from the field in the frame in addition to converting 11-fo-15 free throws.

Tech also forced the Mocs into 11 turnovers in the first 20 minutes, which led to 17 points on the board for the Panthers.

Florida Southern looked like it was going to make an early run in the second half, scoring six straight to trim its deficit to single-digits, 39-31, with 18:01 remaining.

Head Coach Billy Mims and his Florida Tech Panthers last win over a Top-10 team was almost one year ago, on Jan. 6, 2018, when the Panthers since defeated No. 7 Barry (Image by Florida Tech)

The Panthers eventually regained their first-half momentum and went on to build their lead to 21 points on an easy layup by Coil with 10:25 left on the clock.

Tech built its lead to as much as 22 points on a made free throw by Wright with 4:12 to go before cruising to its first victory over Florida Southern since taking down the Mocs, 82-79, at the Clemente Center on Feb. 6, 2016.

Wright finished the game with three points and three assists, while Noble recorded three points and four rebounds.

The field goal percentage for both teams declined in the second half. FSC shot 32.5 percent (13-of-40) and was held to 0-for-14 from long range.

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The Panthers knocked down just 9-for-24 (37.5 percent) from the field but made up for that with an 18-for-21 performance at the charity stripe in the half.

Overall, Florida Tech hit 29-for-36 at the free throw line in the win, while also out rebounding Florida Southern, 45-35. The Panthers outscored the Mocs in the paint, 34-28, and in second-chance points, 16-13.

Florida Tech has little time to bask in the momentous win as the team must prepare for another Top-10 foe in No. 5-ranked Nova Southeastern in the Panthers’ next game on Saturday, Jan. 5.

This matchup will also take place at the Clemente Center and is slated to tip-off at 4 p.m.