Florida Tech Panthers Come Up Short Against No. 20 Embry-Riddle in Daytona Beach 92-79
By Florida Tech // January 6, 2020
Murphy recorded team-high 22 pts and 10 rebounds.
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA – Impressive performances by seniors Derek Murphy and Valur Valsson were not enough to guide Florida Tech to an upset over No. 20 Embry-Riddle Saturday evening. After holding the Eagles in check for much of the first half, ERAU controlled the final 24 minutes of game time and walked away with a 92-79 win on its home court at the ICI Center
Murphy notched his second double-double in three days as he recorded a team-high 22 points on 9-of-17 shooting and 10 rebounds. Valsson made all five of his shots in the game, all from beyond the arc, on the way to earning his first double-double of the season with 15 points and 10 assists.
Sesan Russell finished with 12 points, two rebounds and two assists while going 6-of-6 at the line. Trey Schaneville added nine points, three rebounds and two assists. Nieja Jordan scored six points while Mekhii Noble, Antonis Pefanis and Runako Ziegler tallied five points apiece.
The Panthers shot 27-of-58 (47%) in the game, including 11-of-29 (38%) beyond the arc, and 14-of-20 at the charity stripe. The high-scoring Eagles offense struggled against Tech’s defense early on, making just 10-of-30 to start. ERAU did pick up its play and closed the game shooting 33-of-75 (44%), including 9-of-30 from three, and 17-of-22 from the free-throw line.
Florida Tech had its shooting stroke early on as the Crimson & Gray opened the game 13-of-20 (65%) from the field and 5-of-11 from three-point range. The Panthers jumped out to an 8-2 lead less than two minutes after the opening tip thanks to a pair of threes by Russell and Valsson.
With less than 14 minutes to go, Russell found Jordan for a jumper from the right wing to put Tech up 16-8. Later in the half, Schaneville a three off an assist from Russell to increase the Panthers’ edge to 21-11 with 11:15 remaining.
A driving layup by Murphy just before the mid-way mark of the first half pushed Florida Tech’s advantage to 25-13. After the Eagles trimmed the margin to single digits, Valsson found Schaneville for another three from the right wing to make the score 36-24 with 4:30 left in the first half.
After a fast start, the Panthers’ offense cooled from there as they went 0-5 from the field the rest of the half. ERAU took advantage and ensued on a 12-1 run to cut Tech’s advantage to 37-36 at the break.
Embry-Riddle picked up right where it left off in the first half and opened the second with a 15-5 run to jump ahead 51-42 with 16:34 remaining.
The Eagles led by 12 before Russell answered with a three on the other end to trim the margin to 60-51 with 12:54 left on the clock. However, a quick scoring spree by ERAU increased its lead to a game-high 16 points, 70-54 with 10:46 to go.
Florida Tech responded by going on a 16-5 run over the next 4:33 to climb back into the game. Valsson opened the run with his fourth three-pointer of the game. The Panthers then forced a turnover on the next ERAU possession, which resulted in a jumper by Murphy. Valsson made the score 70-62 with his final three-pointer with 9:30 left.
With 6:13 remaining, Noble grabbed his own rebound and put it back to cut the margin to five, 75-70. The Eagles ensued on a quick run and increased their lead to 82-72 on a three-point play by Luka Majstorovic with 3:13 to go.
After Schaneville cut the lead to 82-75 off an assist from Valsson with 2:48 left, the Panthers’ shooting again went cold, allowing ERAU to pull away late and send Tech to its second straight loss.
Turnovers were a major difference in the game as the Eagles had just eight giveaways compared to 17 for the Panthers. ERAU outscored Florida Tech 28-10 in points off turnovers and 15-6 in fast-break points. Additionally, the Eagles led in points in the paint (48-26) and bench points (20-19).
Embry-Riddle won the rebounding battle 41-37, including a 20-13 edge on the offensive glass, which ultimately resulted in a 21-10 advantage in second-chance points for the Eagles.
Florida Tech is back in action next Wednesday, Jan. 8, as the Panthers continue SSC play by hosting the Eckerd Tritons at 7:30 p.m. at the Clemente Center.
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