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Florida Tech falls to FGCU 73-59 Tuesday evening at Alico Arena

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Florida Tech put together a strong effort Tuesday night in its Division I exhibition with Florida Gulf Coast as the Panthers fell to the Eagles 73-59 at Alico Arena.

Sesan Russell continues to find ways to put up big numbers, this time finishing with a near double-double on a game-high 23 points, nine rebounds and five steals. Russell made all six of his free throws in the game and went 7-of-16 from the field.

Mate Papai almost got a double-double himself on nine points and nine boards while Trey Schaneville posted eight points on 3-of-5 shooting with two rebounds. Mekhii Noble ended with six points and five rebounds.

The Panthers shot 22-of-54 (40.7%) including 6-of-18 from three (33.3%) and 9-of-17 at the charity stripe (52.9%). FGCU made 29-of-73 (39.7%) from the field while going 12-of-26 (46.2%) from long range and 3-of-6 (50%) on free throws.  

The Eagles won the rebounding battle 42-38 and earned a slight advantage in points in the paint (32-30) and second-chance points (11-10). FGCU scored 22 points off Tech’s 17 turnovers in the game. The Eagles bench outscored the Panthers’ 32-20.

Runako Ziegler tallied the first bucket for Tech, a layup to make the score 3-2 just 1:33 into the game. From there, the Eagles went soaring and outscored the Panthers 21-6 to grab a 24-8 lead with 10:42 to go in the first half.

A 5-0 run engineered by Russell cut Tech’s deficit to 11 with less than 10 minutes to go. However, FGCU ensued on an 18-11 run to close out the first half with a 42-24 advantage over the Panthers.

Turnovers were the difference in the first half as Florida Tech’s struggles to secure the ball resulted in 12 turnovers for the Panthers and led to 18 points for the Eagles.  

The flow of the game was more balanced between the teams in the second half as the Panthers tried to make a comeback. A layup by Valur Valsson capped a 6-0 run by the Panthers and cut the deficit to 57-47 with 9:40 left on the clock.

Tech was unable to get the margin to single-digits as the Eagles a 13-4 run to push their advantage back to 19 points with less than two minutes to go. The Panthers were able to slice a little bit more off the lead getting it down to 14-points before the final buzzer.

Following a short Thanksgiving break, Florida Tech will be back in action this week with a pair of matchups at the Clemente Center. The Panthers host LaGrange College on Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. before welcoming Johnson & Wales for a 1:30 p.m. game on Saturday.

For the latest news, updates and information on the Florida Tech men’s basketball team, visit Fans can also stay up-to-date on the latest Panthers news by following Florida Tech Athletics on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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