Sailfish Open SSC Tournament With Win Over Tampa

Written by: Will Johansen, Sports Information Assistant

Box Score

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.- Palm Beach Atlantic men’s basketball (15-12. 10-8 SSC) won their first-ever Sunshine State Conference Championship Tournament game on Wednesday evening as the No. 4 seeded Sailfish knocked off the No. 5 seed Tampa Spartans (17-12, 10-8 SSC), 66-63.The game also marks the first time the ‘Fish are playing in any postseason since joining the NCAA Division II ranks.

The Sailfish jumped out to an early lead Wednesday night, easily cruising to a 20-point margin over Tampa over the first 12 minutes of play. Tampa responded with a 17-3 run of their own to bring the first half down to it’s final thirty seconds. As the Spartans looked to continue their run on a Pat Bacon layup, Bakari Warthen blocked the shot as Dakota Zinser came down with the rebound and giving it up the court to Malek Barber to beat the buzzer with an emphatic slam to put PBA up 34-26 going into the half.

Tampa opened the first six minutes of the second half on a 13-2 run to erase the Sailfish lead and jump out in front by five. Following a Sailfish timeout, the ‘Fish were able to regain composure and bring the game back to its third tie of the second half. At the 11:44 mark and both teams tied at 43, the Sailfish and Spartans battled back and forth over the next five and a half minutes of play to score ten points each.

Over the final six minutes of regulation, the Sailfish scored 13 points of their own while holding the Spartans to 10 points as Tampa hit just 3-of-11 from the field including 1-of-5 from distance. The Spartans also connected on 3-of-4 from the line during that stretch.

Leading the Sailfish in scoring on the night with 17 was the sophomore Warthen. The West Palm Beach, Fla. native hit 5-of-12 from the field while making 2-of-4 from distance. He also shot 5-of-6 from the line. Warthen added six rebounds, two blocks, and two steals.

Grant Gullett also finished in double figures on the evening, as the junior finished with 11. The Pflugerville, Texas native connected n 4-of-7 from the field while knocking down a perfect 3-for-3 from the stripe. Gullett led the team with eight rebounds, while also dishing out a pair of assists.

As a team, the ‘Fish shot 41.8 (23-of-55) percent from the field while hitting 36.4 (4-of-11) percent from distance. They knocked down 80 (16-20) percent from the line, which was a difference-maker down the stretch for the Sailfish.

With the win, Palm Beach Atlantic advances to the SSC Semifinals Saturday afternoon in Daytona Beach, Fla. and will battle the No. 1 seed Barry University. The Sailfish and Buccaneers split the season series with each team winning on their respective home court. The Bucs advance to the semifinals after defeating Florida Tech 87-84.

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