Valur Valsson Breaks Florida Tech Record For Career Assists as Panthers Defeat Embry-Riddle at Home 77-70
By Florida Tech Sports Information // February 16, 2020
Valsson has 429 career assists in three seasons
MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – The Florida Tech men’s basketball team picked up an important win in SSC play on Saturday night as the Crimson & Gray defeated Embry-Riddle 77-70 at the friendly confines of the Clemente Center. The victory splits the season series between the Panthers and Eagles.
The Panthers are now 11-3 at home with the win.
Senior guard Valur Valsson recorded 10 assists in the victory to move into the top spot for career assists in program history. He now has 429 assists for his career, one more than Panther great Chris Carter who previously held the mark of 428 when he hung up his sneakers in 2015. However, more impressive for Valsson is that he achieved the feat in less than three seasons.
“I am really proud of Valur Valsson on etching his name forever in the Florida Tech record book,” said head coach Billy Mims. “It’s amazing to think about how he’s achieved this record. He had to sit out his first year here before he was eligible to play, and then he lost that year and would only have three left to be on the team. To have that many assists in three seasons is just an incredible feat.
“I’ve coached a lot of great players over my long career, both professionally and collegiately, and he is one of the best passers that I’ve ever had the opportunity to coach. His court vision is just amazing. Val sees the floor in a spectacular way. I don’t think he has ever seen an open player that he didn’t’ feel like he could get the ball to.”
Valsson also finished with nine points, seven rebounds and three steals to wrap up an overall game for the guard out of Iceland.
Runako Ziegler led all players in the contest with 26 points to go along with three rebounds and three assists. Ziegler made 8-of-14 shots, including 3-of-4 from beyond the arc, and 7-of-8 at the free-throw line. Derek Murphy finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds and three steals for his ninth double-double of the season. Nieja Jordan recorded 12 points while Trey Schaneville contributed eight points and four rebounds. Jalen Hodges added five points.
Tech was able to knock off the Eagles despite not having the services of three potential starters in the game, as Niall Harris, Mekhii Noble and Sesan Russell were all out with injuries.
Florida Tech finished the game making 26-of-59 (44.1%) from the field, 7-of-20 (35.0%) from long range and 18-of-22 at the charity stripe. However, it was the Panthers’ effort on the defensive end that was a major difference in the game as they held in check one of the top offensive teams in the SSC.
The Eagles were limited to 32.3% shooting (20-of-62) including making just 7-of-33 (21.2%) from three. ERAU made just 27.3% of its shots in the second half.
The Panthers were outrebounded in the contest, 42-35, and concluded the night with an advantage in points in the paint (26-22), points off turnovers (12-6) and bench points (25-16).
“I am very happy with our team’s performance today,” Mims stated. “We played eight guys today and all eight gave us something on the floor. The execution of our game plan was terrific, a lot of that has to do with Val’s performance but everyone did their job today.
“This was another great home victory. It’s a huge confidence boost for us as we took down one of the better teams in our conference today.”
The majority of the first half was fairly even between the teams. Midway through the half, Embry-Riddle jumped out to an 18-10 lead, its largest of the game, on a layup by Luka Majstorovic with 8:47 to go before halftime.
Tech cut the deficit to 22-20 following consecutive threes by Schaneville and Ziegler with 5:20 left on the first half clock. A few minutes later, Murphy got a pass from Valsson and finished it for a dunk to tie the game at 27-27 at the 2:47 mark.
After the Eagles made the score 30-27, Ziegler ensued on his own 6-0 run with a three-pointer and three free throws to give Tech a 33-30 lead with less than a minute to go. Ziegler had 13 points to lead the Panthers in scoring in the first half.
ERAU’s Romeo Crouch sank a last-second three to send the game back into a tie as the teams went into the locker room for halftime.
The initial eight minutes of the second half went along similar to the first half with the teams trading baskets and the lead.
Near the mid-point of the half, Jordan spearheaded an 11-2 run for the Panthers, which helped them corral a 52-44 lead with 10:32 to go. Murphy initiated the run with a three but then Jordan accounted for the next eight points, including a rim-rocking fast-break dunk off an assist from Valsson.
The Eagles responded with an 18-9 run to regain the lead, 62-61, with 6:12 remaining. Florida Tech came storming back with an 11-0 run. Hodges capped the streak with a terrific and-1 effort underneath the basket to give the Panthers their largest lead of the game, 72-62, with 2:39 left.
Embry-Riddle cut the margin to as few as three points, 72-69, with 56 seconds to go. From there, the Panthers took advantage of being in the double-bonus and sealed their 11th win at the free-throw line.
Florida Tech will need to keep the momentum going in the last stage of the season as the Panthers look to clinch one of the last spots in the SSC Tournament.
Next up for the Crimson & Gray is a showdown with Tampa on Wednesday, Feb. 19. Tech routed UT 87-54 one month ago on Jan. 15. Tip-off between the Panthers and Spartans is set for 7:30 p.m. at the Bob Martinez Athletics Center.
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