Tech Rebounds with 84-67 Win Over Tampa
January 12, 2008
Sedlak rallies the team with seventh double-double
MELBOURNE, Fla. (Men’s Basketball) – The 11th-ranked Panthers made sure they didn’t fall twice in a row and they protected their home court by handing Tampa its first conference loss of the season, 84-67. Sophomore Justin Sedlak picked up his seventh double-double of the year with a season-best 27 points, adding 15 rebounds to help improve Florida Tech’s record to 12-1 overall and 2-1 in Sunshine State Conference play. Tampa falls to 9-3 and 3-1 in the SSC.
“This was certainly our best basketball game of the season,” said head coach Billy Mims. “The difference tonight was our character. The guys were not going to let us lose two in a row, especially at home. And Justin just had a tremendous game for us. When the ball’s in his hands, good things happen. He’s a Division I talent and his numbers tonight showed me that he was ready for this game.”
The game was not always safely in the hands of the Panthers. Tech had just a two-point edge heading into the second half and Tampa’s Chris Evans tied things up at 42-all just under a minute into it, but the home team went on a 13-3 run to take a 10-point lead with 15:34 to go in the game. The Spartans, however, kept their composure and came back to get within a basket of the Panthers at the 11:50 mark on a lay-up by Rashad Callaway to force Mims to call a timeout.
That seemed to help the Panthers as they slowly pulled away. The closest the Spartans would get for the remainder of the game was four points as Florida Tech closed out the victory with a 19-7 surge in the final six minutes.
Things started out much closer than they ended with the lead changing hands three times in the opening 20 minutes. Tech’s largest lead of the half came at the 14:22 mark when Carl McNally laid it in to put the Panthers up 16-7. Tampa had a four-point lead on two occasions, but made too many mistakes as the Cats converted 10 UT turnovers into 18 points. Florida Tech took a 42-40 lead into the locker room at the break.
Three other Panthers tallied double figures for Tech including McNally with 18, Ryan Ballard with 14 and Arthur Richardson with 12. Jod Kelley did his part to help Florida Tech edge its opponent in rebounding for the 10th time this season (38-36) with nine of his own, while Ballard helped in other ways with his game-high eight assists and five picks.
The Spartans struggled defensively as they have all season, allowing Tech to shoot 50 percent for the night while only converting 38.3 of their shots. Tampa’s leading scorer and rebounder, Jeremy Black, was held to 14 points and eight boards in the loss, while Callaway led the Spartan effort with 17 points.
Florida Tech returns to action Wednesday, Jan. 16, when the Panthers host Lynn University in the Clemente Center. The women tip things off at 5:30 p.m. with the men to follow at 7:30. The games will once again be available to watch or listen at www.floridatechsports.com.