Derek Murphy had19 points and 10 Rebounds to get his third consecutive double-double
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – It was an emotional rollercoaster during the final stages of Florida Tech’s matchup with Saint Leo Saturday afternoon.
Late game heroics by Trey Schaneville, who hit the game-tying three to force overtime and then the eventual game-winner in the extra period, propelled the Panthers to a 99-93 victory over their SSC foe at the Clemente Center.
This marks the first overtime win for Florida Tech since the 2015-16 season when the Crimson & Gray defeated Paine College 94-92 at Clemente.
“I am so proud of this team’s fight today against a very talented Saint Leo team,” exclaimed head coach Billy Mims. “We never doubted ourselves. Everybody played well, everybody who played gave us something tonight. They embraced their role and tried to help us win this game.”
Derek Murphy paced the Panthers with his third consecutive double-double, and seventh of the season, on 19 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. Runako Ziegler shot 6-of-10 and tied a season-high with 18 points to go along with eight assists, four rebounds and just one turnover.
Mehkii Noble came in off the bench and had a sensational game for Tech finishing with 17 points and eight rebounds.
“I thought Mekhii Noble was a difference-maker tonight for us,” Mims added. “He came off the bench and made 7-of-11 shots from the floor and three of his four free throws, including the last two that sealed the game for us in overtime.”
Sesan Russell added 12 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Valur Valsson made 5-of-7 shots and recorded 12 points and three assists. Schaneville and Nieja Jordan ended just short of double-figures scoring as they tallied nine and eight points, respectively.
Florida Tech had a great game shooting the ball making 35-of-71 (49.3%) from the field, including 50% (13-of-26) from beyond the arc, and 16-of-21 (76.2%) free throws. This was the Panthers’ third game shooting 50% or better from three-point range this season.
Saint Leo also had an efficient shooting game and finished with a field goal percentage of 52.5% (32-of-61). However, the Panthers’ defended well on the perimeter and held the Lions to 5-of-20 (25%) from three in the game. SLU went 24-of-34 (70.6%) at the charity stripe.
Florida Tech controlled the rebounding battle 41-31. The Lions finished with a 10-8 edge in steals while both squads ended with 15 turnovers apiece.
“I thought we rebounded well, defended well and limited our turnovers today,” said Mims. “We executed on both ends of the floor and stuck to our game plan.”
It was a nice start to the game for the Panthers as Russell knocked down a trey on their first possession to give them the early lead. The Lions then scored eight straight points to grab an 8-3 advantage with 17:23 left in the first half.
Tech countered with a 23-12 run and corralled a 26-20 lead at the 11:32 mark following consecutive baskets by Valsson. The Panthers remained ahead as the teams exchanged blows over the next seven minutes until a deep three by Kyran McClure gave Saint Leo a 35-34 lead with 4:02 to go.
Tech quickly regained the lead on a put-back by Noble. The sophomore then scored five of the next 11 points for the Panthers, who closed the half on a 13-3 run and took a 47-38 advantage into halftime.
The Crimson and Gray had a great first half of shooting as they made an impressive 54.5% of their shots in the first half including 6-of-12 from three and 5-5 at the free-throw line.
SLU opened the second half on a 12-6 run and cut the Panthers’ lead to 53-50 on an alley-oop by Isaiah Hill, who led all players in the game with 35 points.
Tech grew its lead back to double-digits, 62-52, after Valsson stole the ball and found Ziegler for a fast-break bucket with 13:21 remaining. The margin reached as much as a dozen points, 71-59, following an alley-oop dunk by Noble off an assist from Murphy at the 10:14 mark of the second half.
The Lions then ensued on a massive comeback over the next 8:19 of game time, outscoring the Panthers 26-10 to corral an 85-81 lead with less than two minutes remaining.
A put-back by Valsson on a miss by Murphy trimmed SLU’s advantage to 85-83. Hill then hit a free throw to put the Lions ahead 86-83 with 1:01 to go. Both teams missed on their next offensive possessions giving Tech the ball with 15 seconds left.
Following a timeout by Mims, Ziegler got the ball and moved it up the court. Once he got on to the offensive half, he slowed down the flow and then found a cutting Schaneville in the corner for the game-tying three with five seconds to go to force overtime.
The teams continued to go back-and-forth through the early minutes of overtime. The score was 93-93 with 1:30 left after a great driving layup by Ziegler. With less than a minute to go, Russell found Schaneville with space on the wing and the sophomore drilled the three-pointer to put Tech up 96-93.
“Trey Schaneville knocked down some huge threes for us,” Mims stated. “He was three for four from beyond the arc and he shot with such great confidence. He wanted the ball in those situations and took advantage when he got it.”
Schaneville’s basket turned out to be the game-winner for the Panthers as the Lions failed to score the rest of the game. Two more free throws by Noble in the waning seconds put the game out of reach for the Lions as Florida Tech improved its SSC home record to 4-2.
“We are 10-2 on our home floor this year,” added Mims. “Our team just believes they can beat anybody on our court. It is great to get the win tonight, especially against Saint Leo who had won four in a row and is playing like one of the best teams in the Sunshine State Conference.
“I am so happy with how this game transpired. It’s really a great victory for us and a huge confidence boost for this basketball team.”
Florida Tech is back in action next Wednesday, Jan. 29, as the Panthers travel to West Palm Beach, Florida for a showdown with Palm Beach Atlantic. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. at Rubin Arena.
CLICK HERE FOR BREVARD COUNTY NEWS