Five Florida Tech Players Score Double-Digits to Secure Blowout Win Over Tampa 87-54

By  //  January 16, 2020

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Tech improves to 9-8

Florida Tech had five players score in double-figures as the Panthers cruised to their most impressive result of the season, an 87-54 blowout win over Tampa in SSC action Wednesday evening at the Clemente Center. (FIT Image)

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Florida Tech had five players score in double-figures as the Panthers cruised to their most impressive result of the season, an 87-54 blowout win over Tampa in SSC action Wednesday evening at the Clemente Center.

With the victory, Tech improves to 9-8 overall and 3-6 in conference play. The Spartans drop to 4-13 for the year and are 1-7 against SSC opponents

“This was a total team effort and we needed it to beat a very talented Tampa squad tonight,” said head coach Billy Mims. “Tampa has played close with all the top teams in our league heading into tonight’s game. Their record is no indication of how good they really are.”

On a day when Mims was honored pregame for reaching the 300-win milestone as a collegiate coach, Tech put on one its greatest performances at this point in the season.

Derek Murphy led the charge offensively and finished with his fifth double-double of the season on a game-high 19 points and 10 rebounds. Sesan Russell filled the stat sheet in the win, recording 17 points, four rebounds, four assists and four assists.

Runako Ziegler tallied 12 points, five rebounds and three assists, while Jalen Hodges and Antonis Pefanis each registered 10 points and five rebounds in the Panthers’ victory. Nieja Jordan contributed five points and eight rebounds.

“I told our guys that if we want a victory tonight, we need everyone to be the best they can be,” Mims added. “We need to play to our strengths and hide our weaknesses. I told our guys that if they accept their roles to the best of their ability, and we could put it all together in one night, we are going to end up blowing someone out. That is what happened tonight.”

Florida Tech shot 50% or better over both halves and finished the game 33-of-63 (52.4%) from the field. The Panthers also went 8-of-21 from beyond the arc and made 13-of-15 at the charity stripe in the win. Tampa, on the other hand, went 21-of-61 (34.4%) from the field, 4-of-22 from three-point land and 8-of-17 at the free-throw line.

“I cannot say enough about our defensive effort tonight holding Tampa to 34% shooting, and a lot of that is because of the great individual defense by our players,” said Mims.

Derek Murphy led the charge offensively and finished with his fifth double-double of the season on a game-high 19 points and 10 rebounds. Sesan Russell filled the stat sheet in the win, recording 17 points, four rebounds, four assists and four assists. (FIT Image)

“The defensive performance that sticks out the most tonight is the one we got from Runako Ziegler. I tasked him with guarding Pat Bacon, Tampa’s leading scorer and best all-around player all game, and for 36 minutes Runako had him wrapped up tight. Bacon went 6-of-22 tonight and was off his game a bit, and that’s a result of the great defensive effort Runako gave us.”

The Panthers got off to a great start with a pair of threes by Pefanis and Jordan, both off assists from Russell, to put Tech up 6-0 early on.

The Spartans trimmed the margin to 9-8 on an outside jumper by Derrick Felder with 13:31 to go in the half. Russell hit a three on the next possession and the Panthers were off and running as they ensued on a 16-4 run that made the score 25-12 on a basket by Hodges with 8:52 left before halftime.

However, seven straight points by UT, capped by a fast-break layup by Felder with 6:25 remaining in the half, cut the Panthers’ lead to 25-19.

After the Spartans decreased the deficit to six, Trey Schaneville was subbed in off the bench to try to create a spark. It was a good move, as the sophomore knocked down a three on his first shot attempt of the game, ending the Tampa run and making the score 28-19 with 5:39 until halftime.

The Panthers outscored the Spartans 10-4 the rest of the opening half and went into the locker room leading 38-25.

Tech resumed its offensive barrage in the second half and grew its lead to 22 points on a jumper by Murphy with 9:36 left. The Panthers cruised the rest of the way, building their lead to 33 on a layup by Andy Francis with just seconds remaining on the clock.

The Panthers dominated the glass earning a 46-29 advantage in rebounding. Tech outscored the Spartans in the paint 46-28 as well as ended with an advantage in points off turnovers 22-14, second-chance points 16-6, fast-break points 15-13, and bench points 24-8.

Florida Tech will get a weekend off before resuming conference play next Wednesday, Jan. 22, on the road at Rollins College. The Panthers and Tars are set to tip-off at 7:30 p.m. from the Alfond Sports Center in Winter Park, Florida.

For the latest news, updates and information on the Florida Tech men’s basketball team, visit FloridaTechSports.com.

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