LAKELAND, Fla. (March 3, 2012) - Rollins beat Florida Tech for the first time all season and did so when it mattered most as the second seed Tars scored a 72-68 win in the Sunshine State Conference Tournament semifinals Saturday.
Rollins advances to meet top seed Florida Southern on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. in Lakeland for the SSC title. The championship game will be broadcast live on Bright House Sports Network.
Rollins won with a huge advantage at the free throw line as Bradley and Blackburn combined to go 17-of-17 from the stripe and the team hit 22-of-27. From the floor, the Tars shot 70 percent (12-17) in the second half and 47 percent (21-44) in the game.
Florida Tech (18-10) was led by 22 points from Jasmire Brown with Kayk Wilson netting 20. The duo combined to shoot 6-for-11 from 3-point range. Ashton McClairen added 12 points, five rebounds and five assists.
Tech hit 39 percent (25-65) from the field and were 9-of-15 from the free throw line, including two crucial misses in the final seconds.
The Tars got off to a quick start and led early, but the Panthers caught fire from long range and built a 22-17 lead with 6:47 to play in the first. Rollins then outscored Tech 15-4 the rest of the frame and took a 32-26 advantage into intermission.
Rollins was up by a game-high eight early in the second half only to see FIT come back and tie the score at 41 with 13:39 to play.
The Panthers comeback started a back and forth finish that featured five ties and six lead changes.
Florida Tech took a 57-52 lead with eight minutes to play until a 12-0 Tars run over the next four minutes put Rollins in control 64-57 at the 4:25 mark.
Rollins high was short lived, however, as Tech came back to tie the score 68-68 with 44 ticks left. Sarah Taylor put Rollins up two on the Tars next possession and then Briauna Hagins drew a foul for Tech with five seconds to play. She missed both from the line and, after a lane violation on the second toss, Blackburn drew a foul, sinking both for the Tars and sealing the win.
The victory puts Rollins into its 17th SSC Tournament title game and for the first time since 2009 where it lost to Tampa 55-29. The Tars and Mocs have met for the SSC title six other times with Rollins winning twice. The rivals split games in the regular season with each holding home court.
Fans can follow Rollins run for an SSC title live on the Tars Sports Network at RollinsSports.com, locally on 91.5 FM WPRK and on the Bright House Sports Network.