BOCA RATON, Fla.–E.J. Murray (Rockledge, Fla.) lifted the Panthers to a 64-62 victory over Florida Southern with one of the best performances of the
Sunshine State Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament in its 29 year history. Murray was on fire hitting his first of nine three pointers only seventeen
seconds from the tip-off. He would finish with a career high 39 points, going 9-for-6 from the arc to tie a Florida Tech Single Game record.
The last time a crimson and gray player made nine treys in a game was exactly twenty years ago when Tom Folliard , Jr. hit nine against Liberty Baptist in
the 1986-’87 season. 2007 Second Team All SSC team member, Murray also chipped in six rebounds, four assists and a steal while managing no turnovers for
the first round victory.
“I feel like I am sitting next to Superman (EJ Murray)…at half-time he donned his blue cape….driving down to Boca Raton we stopped at a phone booth,”
stated Head Coach Mims about Murray’s stellar performance.
The Panthers, despite getting out hustled under the boards by twenty rebounds 55-to-35 for the night, were able to play a solid defense against the Mocs.
Tech’s stellar offense allowed only ten turnovers but pushed for 21 Florida Southern ball-handling mistakes.
Florida Tech (10-20) scored fourteen points off of the Mocs’ turnovers and scored six times off of streak plays, while shutting down any Moc effort at a
fast break for the tournament.
In both halves, Tech was able to gain a sizeable lead over Florida Southern but each time the Mocs staged a come-back. At the half, Tech held only a three
point lead 28-to-25 heading into the lockerroom.
Tech again came out ready to play taking a 13 point lead by 13:11 in regulation playing time. Over the next six minutes Florida Southern took it to within
one point off of six treys from teammates Rob Eldridge (Gary, Ind.) and Eric Fernandez (Caguas, Puerto Rico) to a 50-49 score.
Eldridge than gave Florida Southern their first lead of the game 59-58 after converting two from the line.
Tech immediately answered back with the biggest Panther trey of the game from sophomore Ryan Ballard (Melbourne, Fla.) to reestablish the lead. Fernandez
replied again with another one from downtown to take control 61-62.
Murray not feeling any pressure all game sank his ninth trey from the NBA downtown area and followed it off with a free throw to end the game 64-62 ending
Florida Southern’s roughest losing season in over twenty years at 8-20.
“It felt really good…my shot felt incredible and kept falling all game…I wanted to play Rollins on Friday and wasn’t leaving the game with a loss,” said
Murray. “We are definitely looking forward to the next round and the challenge in the tournament.”
“Rollins is the smartest team in the league if not in the nation and we are ready to give it are all against them…after falling by two last week we think
we can take them,” said Mims on facing the #1 seeded Tars on Friday.
Sunshine State Conference All Freshmen member Justin Sedlak (Pezinik, Slovakia) added nine points, six rebounds and a game high five blocks while Ballard
finished with seven points, five boards, four assists and two steals.
Junior Carl McNally (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) added five points and game high six steals.
The Mocs’ Andre Grant (Kingston, Jamaica) had a double double leading his team with 14 points and ten rebounds. Will Graham (Cross City, Fla.) and Eldridge
finished with eleven points a piece.
#8 seed Florida Tech advances to the second round of the SSC Tournament facing the #1 seed Rollins College Tars at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, March 2nd at the
deHoernle Center on the campus of host Lynn University.
Newspaper Box Score
Florida Southern vs Florida Tech
02/28/07 7:30 pm at Boca Raton, Fla. (de Hoernle Center)
FLORIDA TECH 64, FLORIDA SOUTHERN 62
FLORIDA SOUTHERN (8-20)
GRANT, Andrei 5-12 4-5 14; GRAHAM, Will 4-6 1-2 11; ELDRIDGE, Rob 3-6 2-2
11; FERNANDEZ, Eric 3-6 0-0 9; WOOTEN, Cameron 3-9 0-2 6; GIROD, Dominic 1-6
2-4 5; HULL, Garrett 2-10 0-0 4; ABREU, Arnaldo 1-2 0-0 2; McDONALD, Brandon
0-5 0-0 0. Totals 22-62 9-15 62.
FLORIDA TECH (10-20)
MURRAY, EJ 13-22 4-5 39; SEDLAK, Justin 3-13 3-4 9; BALLARD, Ryan 3-11 0-0
7; McNALLY, Carl 1-8 3-4 5; KELLEY, Jod 1-5 1-2 4; RICHARDSON, Arthur 0-1
0-1 0; WOODSON, Donovan 0-0 0-0 0; MRKSIC, Janko 0-0 0-0 0; CLARK, Damien
0-3 0-0 0. Totals 21-63 11-16 64.
Florida Southern………….. 25 37 – 62
Florida Tech……………… 28 36 – 64
3-point goals–Florida Southern 9-28 (ELDRIDGE, Rob 3-4; FERNANDEZ, Eric
3-6; GRAHAM, Will 2-4; GIROD, Dominic 1-4; McDONALD, Brandon 0-5; HULL,
Garrett 0-2; WOOTEN, Cameron 0-3), Florida Tech 11-29 (MURRAY, EJ 9-16;
KELLEY, Jod 1-2; BALLARD, Ryan 1-5; RICHARDSON, Arthur 0-1; McNALLY, Carl
0-2; SEDLAK, Justin 0-3). Fouled out–Florida Southern-ELDRIDGE, Rob,
Florida Tech-None. Rebounds–Florida Southern 55 (GRANT, Andrei 10), Florida
Tech 35 (MURRAY, EJ 6; SEDLAK, Justin 6). Assists–Florida Southern 11
(ELDRIDGE, Rob 6), Florida Tech 11 (BALLARD, Ryan 4; MURRAY, EJ 4). Total
fouls–Florida Southern 16, Florida Tech 18. Technical fouls–Florida
Southern-None, Florida Tech-None. A-164
Sunshine State Conference Championships – Game 2