MELBOURNE, Fla. (February 26, 2020) – Trailing by 12 late in the third and its postseason hopes hanging in the balance, Rollins posted a comeback for the ages and beat Florida Tech 60-59 in a thriller Wednesday night.
Rachel Lia poured in a career-high 20 points to lead the Tars (15-12, 8-11 SSC). Rachel Jablonski scored 12 on a 5-of-8 shooting night, including a pair of three-pointers. Denise Daniels hauled in 11 rebounds.
Rollins outscored FT 20-4 during a stretch starting at the end of the third until the waning moments of the fourth, resulting in a 58-54 lead with 23 seconds to go. Tech successfully lengthened the game by fouling, but Lia went 4-of-4 at the line down the stretch to ice the game for the Tars.
Severine Uggen netted 16 to lead Florida Tech (13-15, 9-11 SSC). Amanda Allen scored 14 and November Morton added 11.
Both teams struggled from the field at the Clemente Center with the Tars shooting 33 percent and Tech 27 percent. Rollins dominated on the glass, 45-26, including a 13-3 edge on the offensive end.
The Tars started fast and led 15-6 after the first five minutes. FT fought back and cut into the lead with Rollins taking a 19-15 advantage after the first.
Rollins offense went ice cold in the second and allowed the Panthers to get right back into the game and take the lead. Lia hit a bucket 90 seconds into the period, but the Tars wouldn't score again until nearly seven minutes later when a Jablonski three-pointer put Rollins on top 24-23 with 1:54 left in the half.
The score was tied at 26 before a Morton buzzer beater gave FT a 28-26 lead at the break.
The game saw five ties and over the first five minutes. Uggen hit a three-pointer for FT and sparked a 12-0 run that gave the hosts their 50-38 lead. A three-pointer from Jablonski and late bucket from Lia started Rollins going back in the right direction as the Tars trailed 50-43 heading into the fourth.
The buckets by the Rachel's was fouled by a three-pointer from Yoke Tassent that got Rollins to within 50-46 early in the fourth. Florida Tech then quickly made a pair of scores, but the FT spurt was stopped by a 12-0 Rollins run and Rollins grabbed a 58-54 lead with 23 seconds left. Rollins defense was spectacular in the span, holding Tech to 0-for-7 from the field with three turnovers.
Rollins was able to hold on down the stretch as an Allen deep three-pointer made it a one-point game with just two seconds to play. Jablonski intentionally missed at the free throw line with 0.2 seconds to play and time ran out on FT.
The win, coupled with a loss by Lynn, put Rollins in great position for a spot in the SSC Tournament. The Tars are seventh in the standings with the top-eight getting into the bracket. A win over Eckerd on Saturday punches Rollins ticket to the tournament, but a loss will mean either Lynn or Embry-Riddle will have to fall in their games Saturday to get the Tars into the postseason. Losses by Rollins, Lynn and E-R would allow the Tars to slip into the tourney.
Fans can catch Rollins game at Eckerd on Saturday, February 29 at 2 p.m. in St. Petersburg. Fans can follow the action live on the Tars Sports Network at RollinsSports.com.