Panthers Fall 80-66 to FIU in Final Tune-Up

MIAMI, Fla. (Men’s Basketball) – In Florida Tech’s final exhibition game of the preseason, the Panther men’s basketball team fought hard,
but fell to Florida International 80-66 in Miami. Sophomore Justin Sedlak led all scorers with 20 points, while three other Panthers
tallied double figures in the effort, including 12 from Ryan Ballard off the bench.   Tech got the game within nine points mid-way
through the second half when Ballard hit the second of two free throws to narrow the gap, 61-52, capping off a 7-0 run by the Panthers. However, the home
team pulled away and stretched the lead to as many as 19 with just over two minutes to go on a dunk by Alex Galindo to make it 78-59. The final 14-point
margin came after Carl McNally hit a pair of free throws with under a minute to go. The senior was a perfect 4-4 from the line on the
night.   “I’m really proud of our basketball team tonight,” said head coach Billy Mims. “We went on the road against a much improved
NCCA Division I Sun Belt Conference team, and trailed by 12 points at the half. We could have folded at that time, but instead we came out in the second
half and played basket-for-basket throughout the second half.”   Florida Tech took an early five point lead to start the game at 7-2 after Sedlak
drained the front end of a pair of free throws. From that point on it was a see-saw affair with the lead changing hands six times and four ties over the
next seven-plus minutes. Sedlak scored nine of the team’s first 14 points to fuel the Panthers. FIU then took hold of the lead at 7:05 when Michael James
nailed a three-pointer to give the Golden Panthers a 24-21 edge.   A pair of freebies by Ballard cut it back to a four point game at the 5:01 mark,
but that was as close as the Panthers would get to an upset. FIU extended its lead to 12 at the break, taking a 42-30 lead into he locker room.   “The
only time in the game I felt they were better than us was the last five minutes of the first half,” Mims said. “We sustained our effort tonight throughout
the game. If we can do that night in and night out, then this will be a very exciting season for Panther fans.”   At one point in the first half,
Florida Tech was shooting over 57 percent from the floor. The Panthers finished the game shooting nearly 48 percent from the floor and the team made over
85 percent of its shots from the line. Florida International shot 50 percent from the floor and held a 35-27 advantage on the boards in the win.

Tech returns to the friendly confines of the Clemente Center this week as the Panthers host their season-opener Thursday, Nov. 15, versus UPR-Rio. Game
time is set for 7 p.m.


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