PBA Men's Basketball Fights Hard but Falls Short in Season Finale Versus Tampa

Written by: Michael Brown, Assistant A.D. for External Operations

Junior Evin Graham (Pictured) Led the Sailfish with 14 Points on Saturday in Their Season Finale Against the University of Tampa. Photo Courtesy of: Neil Hayes.Junior Evin Graham (Pictured) Led the Sailfish with 14 Points on Saturday in Their Season Finale Against the University of Tampa. Photo Courtesy of: Neil Hayes.

Box Score

TAMPA, Fla.- The Sailfish men’s basketball team suffered another tough loss on Saturday afternoon as they once again had a chance down the stretch to knock off their opponent. In the end however Saturday’s outcome would fall the way of the University of Tampa as they closed out a 69-65 win over the Sailfish on Senior Day at the Rubin Arena.

The first-year of the David Balza coaching era at Palm Beach Atlantic ends with a seven game win improvement from a season ago with impressive victories over teams such as Northwood (Fla.) University, Nova Southeastern (Fla.) University, Eckerd (Fla.) College and Lynn (Fla.) University among others.

The program honored their six seniors during a pregame ceremony which saw all five healthy seniors in the starting lineup. Those players were Christian Martinez, Marko Djekovic, Alan Hardy, Johnny Lantz and Ian Sitz. Injured guard Matthew Gierl was also an “honorary starter”.

Perhaps the adrenaline of senior day coupled with a fast start from the Spartans (18-8) left the Sailfish (8-18) staring up at a 9-0 deficit to start the game.

Once the Sailfish registered their first points, on a layup from Clayton Williams at the 15:32 mark of the first-half, the tide would dramatically shift as PBA would go on a 15-0 run while limiting UT without a point for over six minutes.

The teams would basically play even the rest of the half as a 3-pointer from Martinez with eight seconds remaining in the first stanza put PBA on top 31-30 entering halftime.

The Sailfish connected on 44-percent (11-25) of their first-half shot opportunities while Tampa was nearly identical with a 43.3-percent (13-30) mark of their own. Jordan Davis led all scorers with 10 points in the first period while PBA was led by nine points from Martinez and eight off the bench from Evin Graham.

After a quick bucket by Eric Moraes gave the Spartans the lead back at 32-31 on the second-half’s first possession the ‘Fish and Spartans would begin a back-and-forth scoring spree right down to the final horn.

Neither team would lead or trail by more than six points and it would take a resilient effort by UT on the road for the Spartans to come out with a victory.

Trailing 65-60 with 2:44 to go, Tampa’s Davis connected on a big 3-pointer to draw within a basket. A fastbreak dunk by Ryan Kidd just a minute later would give Tampa the lead at 66-65 with 1:42 to play.

PBA would have their chance for a potential game-tying shot down the stretch but they would not fall and Tampa closed out the game at the foul line.

UT finished 17-of-24 (70.8-percent) at the charity stripe for the contest while the Sailfish could manage only 13 total trips to the line while making 11 free-throws (84.6-percent).

Davis would close out the game leading all scorers with 18 points on 6-of-13 field-goals and 3-of-3 at the line. Moraes added 17 points while Matt Johnson chipped in with 12 points off the bench.

Palm Beach Atlantic was led by 14 points off the bench from Graham and a double-double of 10 points and a game-high 14 rebounds from junior Ronnell Ross. Martinez and fellow senior Djekovic each finished with nine points with Djekovic also adding in four assists and four rebounds.


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