|Points||Merton - 25||Robinson - 33|
|Rebounds||Bonner - 9||Shelton - 8|
|Assists||2 tied with 3||Johnson - 9|
WINTER PARK, Fla. (January 4, 2017) – After falling to conference leading Barry last time out on the hardwood, the Tars took to the court in the new year squaring up against the University of Tampa, who currently sits second in SSC action. Rollins kept the game close and put up a hard fight, but the Spartans were able to secure the game down the stretch, defeating the Tars by a score of 81-73 on Wednesday evening in Warden Arena.
Junior Jeff Merton led the Tars in scoring, putting in 25 points on the night while also grabbing five steals. Freshman guard Jakobi Bonner scored seven points, and recorded a team high nine rebounds. Nils Lehmann was the only other Tar in double figures, dropping in 10 points on the night.
Marcel Robinson was responsible for much of the Spartan offense, dropping 33 points, while shooting 8-20 from behind the arc. Guard Mekhi Biffle scored 14 points and recorded seven rebounds. Duke Shelton led the Spartans on the glass, grabbing eight boards, he also registered eight points.
With the loss Rollins falls to .500 on the season at 7-7, while they move to 1-4 in Sunshine State Conference play. Tampa improves to 11-3 on the year and 4-1 in conference action.
· Marcel Robinson (UT) 32 pts.
· Jeff Merton (RC) 25 pts, 5 stl.
· Mekhi Biffle (UT) 14 pts, 7 rbs.
· Nils Lehmann (RC) 10 pts.
· Connor Mckim (RC) 9 pts.
· Duke Shelton (UT) 8 pts, 8 rbs.
· Jakobi Bonner (RC) 7 pts, 9 rbs.
HIGHLIGHTS AND HALF-BY-HALF ANALYSIS
First Half l Both teams battled back and forth for the better part of the period. A Lehmann three point play tied the score at 15, just before the ten minute mark. The Spartans then went on a run, scoring 10 unanswered to take a 25-15 lead. The Tars took a timeout and came out ready to get themselves back in the game. Rollins went on a 16-5 run, during which six Tars scored a basket. It was Mckim’s three pointer with 4:06 remaining in the half completed the comeback, recapturing the lead for the Tars at 31-30, the fourth lead change of the half. Tampa responded, and closed the half on a 12-0 run, including five from Robinson, to take a 42-31 lead into the break. The 11 point lead was the largest for either team in the half.
Second Half l Both teams traded baskets for the early part of the second half. Mike Bedulskis pulled the Tars to with in five at 15:15, but Tampa pulled away again, stretching their lead to as much as 14, 61-47, at the 9:21 mark. With just over seven minutes remaining, and the margin stuck at 12 points, the Tars defense came alive, making five straight stops, including two steals. On the other end of the court Merton sparked the Rollins offense draining two consecutive three pointers, and a jump shot from the free throw line, to cut the Tampa lead to four. Philpott tallied a basket of his own to get the Tars within two at 62-64. That deficit was as close as Rollins could get in the second half as the Spartans hit their free throws, and came up with some key offensive rebounds, to close out the game.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
· Field Goal Shooting: Rollins 24-47 (51 percent) Tampa 29-62 (47 percent)
· 3-point Field Goal Shooting: Rollins 10-21 (48 percent) Tampa 13-36 (36 percent)
· Free-throws: Rollins 15-20 (75 percent) Tampa 10-18 (56 percent)
· Rebounding: Rollins 29, Tampa 36
· Turnovers: Rollins 16, Tampa 10
· Rollins falls to 43-75 all time against Tampa.
· Merton’s 25 points are a season high, and leave him only 12 points away from recording 1,000 career points.
· Rollins has now lost four straight games, Rollins had not lost four straight since a January 2, 2016 loss to Barry.
NEXT UP FOR THE TARS
Rollins will return to the court on Saturday, January 7 to take on the Palm Beach Atlantic Sailfish. Tip-off is slated for 4 p.m. in the Warden Arena. Fans who can’t make it out can catch all the action live on the Geico Tars Sports Network at RollinsSports.com and locally on 91.5 FM WPRK.