MELBOURNE, Fla. (Men’s Basketball) – In their fifth game in eight days, the Florida Tech Panthers improved to 5-0 for the season after
defeating the University of Puerto Rico-Cayey 95-58 Friday afternoon. Senior All-America candidate E.J. Murray once again led the game
with 21 points, adding four rebounds, seven assists and two steals. “We really gutted one out tonight,” said head coach Billy Mims.
“E.J. put up All-American numbers again and once again we were able to play all 16 guys and get them some quality playing time. That will come in real
handy once SSC play starts.” After taking a 16-point lead at halftime, the second stanza was never really in question for the Panthers. UPRC cut
Tech’s advantage to 14 twice, including at the 17:02 mark on a free throw by Ivan Ortiz to complete the three-point play. The Bulls, however, would get no
closer. Florida Tech took a 73-42 lead with 9:14 to go as Arthur Richardson drained a triple. Cayey then went on a 10-2 run to get
within 23 at the 5:52 mark on a three-pointer by Ortiz, but the Panthers, fueled by the play of its bench, closed the game on a 20-6 spurt for the final
tally. The Bulls never held the lead in the game, though the score was tied three times in the first half. The last time the two teams were knotted
was with 12:12 to go in the first. Josul Berrios sank a jumper to make the score 17-all. Tech then slowly pulled away and junior Ryan
Ballard took a pass from Sean Zeller and hit a trey to beat the buzzer at the end of the half. “It was a tight game in the
first half,” Mims commented. “We made a run in the last five minutes or so of the first half and that seemed to make the difference. Our starters played
gutsy basketball tonight.” Florida Tech had a 51-39 rebounding advantage in the win, led by Justin Sedlak with eight and
Jod Kelley with seven. The Panthers shot over 50 percent from the field (51.5) for the fourth time already this season, but struggled at
the line, hitting just 16-of-31 from the charity stripe. Emmanuel Rivera led the Bulls with 15 points, while Ortiz put up 14. UPRC was held to just
37.3 percent shooting and had twice as many turnovers as Tech with 14 as a team.
The Panthers remain at home next week as the team plays host to Florida Christian College on Thursday, Nov. 29, at 7 p.m.