|Points||Merton - 23||Beneduci - 21|
|Rebounds||Galvis - 9||Young - 9|
|Assists||Galvis - 7||Young - 9|
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 5, 2017) – Rollins advanced to the Sunshine State Conference Tournament title game after an 81-70 win over Eckerd Saturday night in Daytona Beach.
The third-seeded Tars (20-10) will face fourth-seed Palm Beach Atlantic on Sunday, March 5 at 4 p.m. in the ICI Center at Embry-Riddle. The game will be shown live on ESPN3.
Jeff Merton led Rollins with 23 points and five rebounds. Sam Philpott added 17 points, shooting 5-of-9 and hitting all four, three-point attempts. Joey Galvis and Eric Castaneda each netted 13 with Galvis also recording nine rebounds, seven assists and three steals.
Matt Beneduci was 7-of-13 from long range and scored 21 points to lead Eckerd (21-8). Trevon Young added 15 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
Rollins trailed by as many as 12 in the first half, but used a late run to close the gap to just two by intermission. Another run in the second was fueled by seven-straight points from Merton that put the Tars ahead for good.
The Tars are making a 12th all-time appearance in the conference championship game and are seeking its first title since 2011. Rollins swept Palm Beach Atlantic in the regular season.
• Jeff Merton (RC) 23 pts, 5 rbs.
• Matt Beneduci (EC) 21 pts, 7-13 3FG
• Sam Philpott (RC) 17 pts
• Trevon Young (EC) 15 pts, 9 rbs.
• Joey Galvis (RC) 13 pts, 9 rbs, 7 asst. 3 steals
HIGHLIGHTS AND HALF-BY-HALF ANALYSIS
First Half l Rollins first bucket didn’t come until almost five minutes in, but the defense kept it close with a Castaneda triple making it 4-3 EC at the 15:30 mark. Beneduci caught fire from the outside for the Tritons and put Rollins in a 32-20 hole with 5:45 to play in the half. The Tars found themselves down 10 with 2:24 on the clock, but closed the half on a run and cut the Eckerd lead to just 39-37 after a Castaneda buzzer-beating three.
Second Half l The Tars were finally able to take their first lead of the night after a Philpott triple pushed Rollins in front 50-49 with 14:45 to play. Eckerd scored the game’s next six points, but again the Tars came charging back. Merton shouldered the load during a 15-2 run over the next five minutes that put the Tars out in front 65-57. Keshawn Ingram found a three-pointer to make it a five point game, but that would be as close as the Tritons would get the rest of the way. Rollins went on to lead by as many as 11 late in the game.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
• Field Goal Shooting: Rollins 27-58 (47 percent) Eckerd 27-59 (46 percent)
• 3-point Field Goal Shooting: Rollins 12-26 (46 percent) Eckerd 11-30 (38 percent)
• Free-throws: Rollins 15-19 (79 percent) Eckerd 5-9 (56 percent)
• Rebounding: Rollins 32, Eckerd 35
• Turnovers: Rollins 8, Eckerd 13
• Rollins improves to 69-52 all-time against Eckerd and snapped a two-game skid against the Tritons.
• Joey Galvis set a new career-high with nine rebounds.
• Rollins is now 5-4 all-time in the SSC Tournament vs. Eckerd.
• Rollins improves to 6-7 all-time as the No. 3 seed.
• The Tars are making a 12th trip to the SSC Tournament Championship; first since 2013.
• Rollins had less than 10 turnovers for the seventh time this season and fourth-straight game.
• Sam Philpott has hit at least one field goal in each of the last 38 games.
Jeff Merton now as 1,202 career points, just eight away from Myk Brown in 26th place.
Joey Galvis is tied with Nick Wolf for 13th all-time in Tars history with 128 steals.
• Tom Klusman is now 673-392 in 37 years as the Tars head coach.
NEXT UP FOR THE TARS
Rollins will meet Palm Beach Atlantic for the 2017 Sunshine State Conference title on Sunday, March 5 at 4 p.m. inside Embry-Riddle’s ICI Center. Fans can follow the action live on the Geico Tars Sports Network at RollinsSports.com and locally on 91.5 FM WPRK. The game will also be carried live on ESPN3 and the WATCHESPN app.