Second Half Surge Ignites Panthers to Reynolds’ 500th Victory
Wilson hits five threes on the way to 25 and Brown drops 17 to lead FIT
MELBOURNE, Fla. – Head coach John Reynolds became just the 11th active Division II women’s basketball coach to collect at least 500 wins Saturday afternoon as Florida Tech (7-0) blew past Eckerd (5-2) in the second half for a decisive 76-60 win at the Clemente Center to open Sunshine State Conference play.
Reynolds’ 500 wins spanning 28 years as a head coach have all come sporting the Crimson and Gray of FIT. He has been with the Panther program for all 29 years of its existence, spending the inaugural season as an assistant coach.
The Panthers remain the only unbeaten team in the SSC and sit atop the league with a 1-0 conference record.
“I thought our defense in the second half was just outstanding,” said Reynolds. “That team came in shooting 53.8 percent on the year and in the second half, they were under 32 percent and just 10 percent from three. I thought we did a great job contesting their shots and we took away their back door cuts in the second half. I thought the difference in the game was our defense. We shot the ball well but I thought our defense was the difference.”
FIT jumped out to a quick 8-0 lead behind three pointers by Jasmire Brown and Kayk Wilson but the Tritons answered back quickly with seven of their own, setting the tone for a back-and-forth first half that neither team could seem to seize control of.
Despite a 14-2 advantage in fast break points, the Panthers headed into the break trailing 41-40. Wilson was on fire in the opening frame, knocking down five of her six shots including a 4-of-5 mark from distance for 15 points. Tiesha Flagler was all over the court, tallying four points, four assists, three steals and a block.
While the Tritons were able to keep up with FIT in the first half, the second stanza was a completely different story. Following a made layup by Eckerd’s Trine Kasemegi, the Panthers used a 30-6 run early in the final period to grab a dominating lead that they would never look back from.
Six different Panthers scored during the 30 point outburst, including eight from Shequana Harris and six from Brown.
With the game well within the grasp of FIT, Eckerd made a late push to bring the score closer. However, there was no doubt that the second half completely belonged to the Panthers.
True to form, Wilson finished the contest with 25 points, burying five three pointers and snagging three rebounds. Flagler was a pest for the Tritons, swiping four steals, capturing seven rebounds and collecting five assists, all Panther highs. Brown matched Flagler’s seven boards, while BreAnn Davis recorded six of her own.
In particular, Reynolds was impressed with what he saw from Brown.
“Jas had a great game,” he said. “Every time you turn around she’s doing something right. We were coming off of the floor today during warmups and she was carrying three basketballs. If I ask somebody to make sure the laundry is in it’s always her. Jas is about as good of a senior as you are ever going to get to coach.”
Eckerd was led by guard Kayla Bowlin, who notched 16 points and seven assists but turned the ball over eight times. Victoria Vine and Kasemagi also scored in double figures, with 12 and 11, respectively.
In the end, it was the little things that led to FIT’s assertive win.
“We got beat in points in the paint but if you look at all the other intangibles we were better,” said Reynolds. “Points off of turnovers, second chance points, we really did a great job in the second half of limiting their second chance opportunities. I thought both teams played really well. Eckerd played well but in the second half we beat them to every loose ball and our bench always gives us minutes. I’m happier with the defensive effort than I’ve been at any point in the season so far.”
FIT will take a short break before hosting Flagler at the Clemente Center next. The Panthers and Saints will do battle on Monday, Dec. 15 starting at 7 p.m. ET.
Box Score: http://www.floridatechsports.com/media/2014-15/wbasketball/stats/fitw07.htm
2014-15 Schedule: http://www.floridatechsports.com/wbasketball/schedule/