MELBOURNE, FL - A smothering defensive effort in the first quarter helped Florida Southern College women's basketball get the early edge it needed as it hung out to defeat a pesky Florida Tech squad, 67-62, on Wednesday night at the Clemente Center. The No. 17 Moccasins (11-1, 4-0 SSC) remained perfect in Sunshine State Conference play, but it was tough sledding as the Panthers (4-8, 0-4) nearly overcame a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to put a scare into the Mocs late in the contest.
Florida Southern held Florida Tech to just eight first-quarter points en route to a 17-8 lead after one quarter and was able to hit key free throws down the stretch to seal the win. Anja Fuchs-Robetin paced the Mocs with 26 points and Bekki Kalaydjiev went a perfect 4-of-4 at the charity stripe in the final 30 seconds to lift Southern to its eighth-straight win.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- 1st Quarter | Florida Southern absolutely dominated the first quarter as it held Florida Tech to just eight points and 3-of-17 (17.6 percent) from the floor over the first 10 minutes of action. After a slow start by the Moccasins that saw them fall behind 4-3 in the opening four minutes, the offense came to life by outscoring the Panthers 13-5 over the last six minutes of the opening period. Camille Giardina scored 10 points in the first quarter to spur the Moccasin offense to its late run.
- 2nd Quarter | In the second quarter the Panthers found their rhythm on offense and went 9-of-14 (64.3 percent) from the floor as they outscored the Mocs 23-19 in the period. After trailing by as many as 15 points (23-8) in the first three minutes of the second quarter, Florida Tech was able to claw its way back by outscoring Florida Southern 20-11 to pull within five (33-28) with just over two minutes to go in the half. However, the Moccasins never surrendered the lead as they took a 36-31 lead into the locker room.
- 3rd Quarter | Florida Southern was able to push its lead back to double digits when it scored the first four points of the third quarter to go up 42-31 with 8:39 on the clock, but again the Panthers rallied and sliced the deficit to just two (48-46) with just over a minute to go in the third. Fuchs-Robetin was able to single-handedly keep the Moccasins ahead by scoring six points in the final minute of the quarter to make it 54-48 after three quarters of play.
- 4th Quarter | The Mocs got off to a strong start in the fourth quarter by pushing their lead to 10 points (59-49) with 8:00 left to play, but five a minute scoreless stretch allowed Florida Tech to come all the way back to get within three (56-53) with 5:32 to go. It would be a tight battle from there as the Mocs never led by more than five and the Panthers cut the deficit to a single point (63-62) with 33 seconds remaining. But Kalaydjiev was clutch down the stretch by hitting all four free throws in the closing moments, and the Moccasin defense did not allow FIT to score again en route to a 67-62 victory.
- Fuchs-Robetin scored 26 points on a 7-of-11 night from the floor, she also collected eight rebounds and went 11-of-12 at the charity stripe. Giardina tallied a team-best nine rebounds to go along with her 15 points, and Katerina Pazzaglia-Khomenko finished with 11 points off the bench. The Mocs shot just 38.5 percent from the floor, but went 25-of-29 at the free-throw line and held the Panthers to 36.7 percent shooting.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
- Florida Southern improved to 43-28 all-time against Florida Tech, including a 14-19 mark when facing the Panthers on the road. Moccasin head coach Betsy Harris picked up her 96th at the helm of the program and is now 96-36 in five seasons at Florida Southern. She is on pace to become the fourth coach in school history with at least 100 wins and is now 164-63 in her eight seasons as a collegiate head coach.
- Giardina pushed her career scoring total to 1,490 to move into eighth place in school history in career scoring. She is 17 points shy of moving into seventh place. Fuchs-Robetin moved closer to the top-10 in career scoring by moving her total to 1,245. She needs just 151 more points to move into the top 10.
- The 11-1 start is the best through 12 games since the 2015-16 season, when the Mocs went 14-1 through their first 15 games on their way to an NCAA Elite Eight appearance.
- Florida Southern returns home to face Lynn on Saturday, Jan. 5 at 5:30 p.m. before hitting the road for matchups at Palm Beach Atlantic (Jan. 9) and Barry (Jan. 12)