Sailfish Spoil Florida Tech's Home Winning Streak with Tough Play Down the Stretch
January 8, 2011
Written By: Michael Brown, Assistant A.D. for Athletic Communications
MELBOURNE, Fla.- For the second time in three days the Palm Beach Atlantic University men’s basketball completed a season sweep over a region opponent as the Sailfish collided head on with Florida Tech on Saturday at the Clemente Center. After completing the season sweep over Lynn University on Wednesday the Fish needed a full 40 minutes on Saturday to escape Melbourne with a 67-64 win over the Panthers.
Jonathan Lawrence connected on three-of-four free-throws down the stretch while leading all scorers with 19 points on 7-of-12 from the field while three other players reached double-figures to aid the Sailfish cause.
The Panthers (10-6) were previously 8-0 on their home court as they led for most of the contest before a second-half Sailfish rally put the visitors on top before holding on for a tough road victory in the NCAA South Region. The win gives the Fish a 9-6 record overall.
The first-half of play featured the home-standing Panthers cling to a lead between one and five points for the duration of the period as they entered half-time with a 27-23 lead over PBA. Neither team could find consistency with their outside shooting as the two teams combined for a 4-of-19 performance from beyond the arc while FIT held a slight advantage overall with a 39.3% (11-28) shooting mark over PBA’s 34.5% (10-29) showing in the opening period.
FIT’s long front-line of Edgars Eglitis and Anthony Jackson paced the Panthers with eight points apiece while PBA’s Terrell Terry finished a productive first-half with a team-high eight points on a perfect 3-of-3 from the field.
Neither team’s star players who are both near the top of the region’s scoring leaders, PBA’s David Wood (1-9, 3 points) or FIT’s Justin Sedlak (1-5, 2 points) could muster much production in the opening half.
FIT would jump on top early in the second-half as an Eglitas dunk was followed by a Sedlak jumper with 17:49 to play that gave Florida Tech what would be their biggest lead of the night at eight points (31-23).
A quick 6-0 run by the Sailfish would then follow however before the team’s traded baskets to keep the Sailfish deficit at only two points. The game was finally tied at 33-33 each with 14:30 to play when PBA’s Eric Alleyne found Terry underneath for a quick bucket to finally draw even.
Florida Tech would then follow with four free-throws before the Sailfish found a key contributor in the contest in Matthew Gierl who entered for the first time with 12:27 to play. Over the next several minutes Gierl would tally two three-pointers in as many attempts while also adding in two assists to give the Sailfish a big lift and a lead for the first-time.
Once again the two teams would go back-and-forth before a long three-point bomb from Wood with 6:03 to go would give the team a two-point lead of 52-50 that they would never relinquish.
Although the Panthers would claw back to as close as one point down the stretch it would be the Sailfish who would hold on for the victory.
Perhaps the final blow can be attributed to first-year Sailfish guard Salim Fauras who sank two key free-throws with only 27 seconds remaining that put the visitors up by a more comfortable four-point spread.
After shooting only 3-of-11 in the first-half from beyond the arc, the Fish found a much higher success rate in the second-half as they registered a 5-of-10 showing while the Panthers were 0-of-6 from three-point land in the second 20 minutes.
The Panthers did find plenty of opportunities at the free-throw line however as they sank all 17 of their attempts from the charity stripe in the second-half while finishing 21-of-24 (87.5%) for the game.
For the second straight game the Sailfish received a nice showing from their bench which outscored their opponent 26-6 in the contest.
Following Lawrence’s 19-point output was 14 points from Terry who finished 5-of-5 from the field while sophomore Ian Sitz added 12 points in 25 minutes on 6-of-9 from the floor. Wood continued his double-digit scoring streak by getting the necessary 10 points on 4-of-14 shooting with four rebounds.
Simon Cummings led the Panthers in scoring as the versatile point guard finished only 3-of-11 from the field by did sink 10-of-11 free-throws. Sedlak chipped in 13 points, seven rebounds, and six turnovers while Jackson and Eglitis added 12 and 10 points respectively.
Palm Beach Atlantic concluded the contest with only 12 turnovers including just four miscues in the second-half while FIT fell victim to 19 turnovers in the contest.
PBA will be off from game action for the next week as they will prepare for a road showdown with the still-undefeated University of Tampa Spartans who the Sailfish fell in overtime to in early December. The Sailfish and Spartans are set to tip off on Saturday, January 15th at 4 pm.