WEDNESDAY, MARCH 05, 2014
Panthers Open SSC Championships with Victory
KISSIMMEE, Fla. (Women’s Basketball) – The No. 6 seed Florida Tech Panthers closed out the first day of the Sunshine State Conference Basketball Championships Wednesday night, as they took on No. 5 seed Barry. The Bucs won both games between the two teams during the regular season, but that did not matter tonight as the Panthers kept their season going with a 74-57 victory.
“Survive and advance, that is the mentality,” said head coach John Reynolds. “The thing that impressed me was they played to win, and never thought about losing the game. We got a good lead, and every time Barry made a run in the first half, we answered it with a different player.”
The Panthers (17-12) came out of the gates on a roll taking an early 15-0 lead. Junior Kayk Wilson, the SSC’s leading scorer had eight points in the early run, and the squad held a double-digit lead for the first 10 minutes of the game.
Barry’s offense got going, and cut its deficit to as little as six with less than 10 minutes to play in the first half. The Panthers answered the Bucs’ run with one of their own, and took a 42-27 lead at halftime.
Wilson came into Wednesday night’s game averaging 20.1 points per contest this season. She nearly matched that with 19 in the first half for the Panthers. Junior Jasmire Brown was also in double-figures at halftime with 12 points.
The Panthers pushed their lead in the second half to 21 points with fewer than 16 minutes to play. The Bucs tried to rally, but the Panthers were able to answer every Barry attempt, and did not allow their lead to be threatened. When the final buzzer sounded, the Panthers earned the 74-57 win.
Wilson led all scorers in the game with 28 points. Brown scored 14 points, and sophomore Diamond Cooper scored 10 points to go with eight rebounds.
“I thought that Jasmire coming off the bench was solid, and we got good minutes from both Diamond and Kaila Callender,” Reynolds said. “We played 10 players in the first half, so we used our bench really well today.”
As a team, the Panthers shot 42.3 percent for the game. They were 8-of-18 from three-point range, and 6-of-10 from the foul line.
Tyler Hardy led the Bucs with 27 points and 13 rebounds. Barry (16-11) shot 38.9 percent for the game. They were 3-of-19 from three-point range, and 12-of-16 from the foul line.
The Panthers now advance to the quarterfinal round Friday night when they face the Lions of Saint Leo. The No. 4 seed Lions defeated No. 7 seed Lynn earlier in the day. The Panthers won both regular season matchups against the Lions.
Tip-off Friday night is set for 7:30 p.m. ET inside Silver Spurs Arena. You can follow the action live at FloridaTechSports.com. The winner Friday night between the Panthers and Lions will advance to face No. 1 seed Tampa in the semifinal round.
“We started off today 0-0, and Saint Leo started off today 0-0,” Reynolds said. “This is the second season within a season, and we have our work cut out for us all over again.”