Florida Southern Wins SSC Men's Tournament Title
Courtesy of FSC Sports Information
With only a slight variation on last year's script, Florida Southern claimed its second straight Sunshine State Conference Tournament Championship with a 77-76 overtime victory over Rollins Sunday at Ft. Lauderdale.
Last year it was FSC's Zach Smith scoring at the buzzer for an overtime win against Tampa. Sunday it was Rollins missing at the buzzer, giving the Moccasins the one-point win to clinch the top seed and host role for the NCAA Division II South Regional.
The regional will be played Mar. 14-15 & 17 at Jenkins Field House. As the top seed, the Moccasins will play LeMoyne-Owen (17-13) in their first game on Saturday. LeMoyne-Owen was seeded fourth in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament, but upset top-seeded Claflin, 65-61 in overtime, in the semifinals and beat third-seeded Lane, 64-61, in the title game.
The other pairings for Saturday:
#2 seed Christian Brothers (Tenn.) vs. #7 seed Delta State
#3 seed Claflin vs. #6 seed Valdosta State
#4 seed Benedict vs. #5 seed Arkansas Tech
The semifinals will be played Sunday and the championship game Tuesday night. Times for the games will be announced later.
In Sunday's SSC title game, Terry Jenkins scored seven of his 16 points in the overtime to get the Moccasins in front in the extra period and they never relinquished the lead. His layup with 2:44 left put FSC ahead by six, but Rollins cut the lead to two on a free throw by Zach Pancratz and a three-pointer by Matt Robertson with 1:57 to play. That's when tournament MVP Rob Eldridge stepped up and scored on a jumper to put the lead at four with 1:23 to go. Pancratz hit a three-pointer with 52 seconds left and the Tars got one more chance when they rebounded a missed Moccasin shot with 18 seconds left. Following a Rollins timeout with 10 seconds remaining, Pancratz's shot was off the mark at the buzzer.
Rollins, which trailed 34-26 at halftime, had overcome a 61-51 deficit in the final 7:59 to send the game into overtime. A three-pointer by Pancratz tied the game at 66-66. The Moccasins had three shots in the final 47 seconds, but couldn't get any of them to connect.
Eldridge led the Moccasins with 21 points, 12 in the second half. "The good thing about our team is that on any night anybody can step up and light it up," Eldridge said. With the Moccasins assured of a second straight NCAA bid, Eldridge said he thinks this year will be different. "We got a taste last year, but didn't get the job done in that first game. We're hungry this year."
Joining Eldridge on the all-tournament team were teammates Terry Jenkins and Rion Rayfield, along with Kevin Hogan and Nick Wolf of Rollins and David Naylor of Nova Southeastern. Of his key baskets in overtime, Jenkins said, "The guys have confidence in me, so I knew I had to contribute."
SSC Coach of the Year Linc Darner, whose team is now 27-6, said, "The problem teams have had against us all year is they can't key on one guy. We've got great balance and that's been a huge asset for us."