No. 5 Nova Southeastern Cruises By Florida Tech 82-62, Panthers Fall To 1-4 In Conference
By Florida Tech // January 6, 2019
Panthers had season-high 27 turnovers
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA (Florida Tech) – Florida Tech battled it out with one of the best teams in the country on Saturday afternoon but the Panthers were unable to come back from their double-digit halftime deficit and fell to No. 5 Nova Southeastern, 82-62, in SSC action at the Clemente Center.
The main factor in the Crimson & Gray’s loss is too many turnovers that led to easy points for the Sharks, allowing them to build a big lead and run away with it. The Panthers turned the ball over a season-high 27 times, and they led to 35 points for NSU.
Despite the turnovers, Florida Tech head coach Billy Mims was still pleased with his team’s effort in executing the game plan.
“We controlled the tempo,” said Mims. “We forced them to play the style of basketball we wanted to play, not the style they wanted. I am proud of our team for not allowing them to make this game a track meet. We held them well below their scoring average because we dictated the style of play.”
The game plan worked. Tech limited NSU to a season-low for points (82) and shooting percentage (.375). The Sharks, the nation’s No.1 scoring team at 109.5 points per game, were held to almost 28 points below their average. Their previous season-low for points was 91 against Saint Leo on Dec. 8.
Derek Murphy led all scorers with 28 points and nine rebounds. RJ Coil notched his fifth double-double on 12 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks before fouling out in the second half. Antonis Pefanis added seven points and four boards, while Trey Schaneville tallied seven points and three assists.
The Sharks jumped out to an early 7-0 lead just 2:45 after the opening tip. However, six straight points from Coil made it a one-point game with 14:40 to go before halftime.
From there, NSU went on a 13-2 run to build its advantage to 20-8 almost midway through the first half.
The Panthers would claw their way back and make it a two-possession game, 22-16, following consecutive layups by Murphy with 5:57 remaining. However, the Sharks outscored Tech 10-5 to push the lead back to 11.
The Crimson & Gray had a chance for the last basket of the half but a late turnover by Pefanis led to a wide-open jumper by Eddie Puisis and NSU went into the break leading 34-21. The 21 points are the fewest scored by the Panthers in a half this season.
Poor shooting by both teams marred the first half. The Panthers made 9-of-27 (.333) while the Sharks shot 13-of-39 (.333). Tech missed all 11 of its three-point attempts in the half and NSU was not much better, but still made 4-of-14.
The Sharks’ lead remained in double-digits through the majority of the first 11 minutes of the second half.
With 8:37 left, Murphy converted an and-1 opportunity to bring Tech to within nine. He then grabbed the defensive rebound on the ensuing possession and scored on the other end to cut the deficit to 55-48, the closest the Panthers had been since the 5:57 mark of the first half.
Unfortunately, a series of turnovers would put a halt to Florida Tech’s momentum. NSU took advantage of the sloppy play and proceeded to go on a 24-7 run to blow the game wide open, ending the Panthers’ chance at a second Top-10 upset in four days.
Tech ended the contest shooting 23-of-54 (.426) and a season-worst 11.8 percent (2-of-17) from beyond the arc. NSU shot a season-low 37.5 percent (27-of-72) from the field and 34.4 percent (11-of-32) from three, its second-lowest percentage of the season.
The Panthers won the rebounding battle, 44-41, and had more points in the paint, 40-26.
Florida Tech will play just its second road game of the season against SSC foe Saint Leo on Wednesday, Jan. 9. Tip-off between the Panthers and Lions is set for 7:30 p.m. at the Marion Bowman Activities Center.
For the latest news, updates and information on the Florida Tech men’s basketball team, visit FloridaTechSports.com
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