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No. 8 Panthers Cool Off After Hot Start and Delay, Fall to No. 3 Tampa 64-58
Akeem Johnson nailed a career-high four three-pointers on Wednesday evening. Photo by Jim Hogue.
Akeem Johnson nailed a career-high four three-pointers on Wednesday evening. Photo by Jim Hogue.
KISSIMMEE, Fla. (Men’s Basketball) – Prior to tonight’s game, head coach Billy Mims said “this season has been the unluckiest year of my 30-year coaching career.” What happened after No. 8 Florida Tech jumped to an 8-0 lead behind Akeem Johnson’s two corner threes displayed just that as a failed dunk by No. 3 University of Tampa ended with the shot clock above the rim collapsing, forcing a 19-minute delay. UT capitalized and ended FIT’s season in heartbreaking fashion, 64-58, on Thursday at Silver Spurs Arena.

With the loss, the Panthers end the 2013-14 campaign 16-13 and the Spartans head to the Sunshine State Conference Semifinals against No. 2 Saint Leo University (19-8).

Johnson finished with a game-high 17 points, 12 coming from long distance, Corbin Jackson recorded his conference leading 17th double-double of the season with 14 points and 16 rebounds, and David Usic pulled down 11 rebounds.

After the delay, FIT was held scoreless for six minutes until Corbin Jackson’s floater found the bottom of the nylon to give the Panthers an eight-point cushion with 6:56 remaining. A late run allowed UT to overtake the Panthers at halftime, 33-30. Jermaine Jackson led FIT with 10 first half points and Corbin Jackson pulled down 10 first half rebounds. Johnson finished with nine points, all from three-point range.

Trailing by four with 14:03 remaining, Corbin Jackson scored four consecutive points for Florida Tech to tie the contest at 44. The Panthers took a 47-46 lead with 11:02 left to play following Johnson’s fourth triple of the evening but the Spartans answered back with a jumper. UT closed out the victory with its second unit outscoring the Panthers’ bench 26-1.

The Panthers had the opportunity to overtake the lead with the Spartans shooting just 57.7 percent from the charity stripe and hitting just 4-of-8 in the final three minutes of the game.

Four Spartans reached double figures, led by Eric Moraes’ double-double (15 points and 10 rebounds).

No. 6 FIT women’s basketball will play No. 4 Saint Leo tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. Florida Tech defeated Barry University in the opening round of the SSC Championships and swept SLU in its regular season meetings.
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