Senior Ryan Maultsby led the Panthers with 26 points “The Night the Lights went Out in Melbourne”
MELBOURNE, Fla.—In one of the best season openers of all time the Florida Tech Panthers (1-0) overcame NCAA Division II south regional foe Valdosta State
(0-1) opening up their season on a double overtime victory 91-89 despite a late start due to a power outage. Senior forward Ryan Maultsby (Vero Beach,
Fla.) led his team with 26 points, 5 steals, seven rebounds and one block.
Tonight’s win was definitely a team fought effort on the part of the Panthers, but the key play that won the Panthers the game in about a second left of
play came from bench player senior forward Romark Suckra (Kingston, Jamaica). After senior forward Titas Vainauskas (Vilnius, Lithuania) fouled out in the
final minute of second overtime, Head Coach Bill Mims decide to put Suckra in to replace him over some of the other players who had already seen action
earlier in the game.
Suckra had not seen any time in this game and came out ready to go despite being cold after a lengthy night. The Panthers had possession with eight seconds
left when sophomore point guard E.J. Murray (Rockledge) missed a lay-up and Suckra grabbed the rebound and sunk the basket for the 91st point and the win.
Vainaskas led under the boards for the Panthers with nine rebounds and added 15 points and six assists. Murray, who hit some key threes to bring us back in
the game went 4-8 from the three point line and perfect 4-4 from the free throw line, tallied 22 points for the evening. He chipped in six assists.
Senior guard Desmond Greene (Rockledge, Fla.) hit some three point shots in the clutch including regaining the lead in the second overtime at 1:22 on the
clock. Greene converted a top of the key three pointer into a four point play to give the Panthers the lead 88-85. Greene finished the night with seven
points, five rebounds, two assists and one block.
Tech’s final starter center Damian Clark (Orange Park, Fla.) added five boards, two buckets and a free throw. Key reservist senior Kevin Krieg (Ft. Myers,
Fla.) replaced Clark in most of the first half also tallied double figures for Tech scoring ten points. Krieg had three steals and pulled down five boards
for the victory.
Leading all scorers was the Blazers’ Jon Rogers who hit one of Valdosta State’s three double doubles with 32 points and 13 rebounds. Rogers went 13-18 from
the field and managed five blocks. Teammates J.T. Thomas added 20 points and 11 rebounds while Jon Blanks totaled 15 points and 13 rebounds.
The Panthers will be back in action on Thursday, November 17 when the travel to West Palm Beach to play Palm Beach Atlantic at a 7:00 p.m. game.