WINTER PARK, Fla. (November 15, 2017) – After a tough start to the season, Rollins got back on track with an 83-72 win over Florida Tech in both school's Sunshine State Conference openers Wednesday.
Sam Philpott scored 23 of this game-high 26 in the second half to lead the Rollins (1-2, 1-0 SSC) attack. The senior shot an efficient 10-of-16, including a 4-of-6 clip beyond the arc. The total was just one off his career high of 27 set last year against Angelo State. Deion Clark recorded 15 points, seven rebounds, eight assists and three steals for the Tars while Jack Fleming hit 4-of-11 from deep to contribute 12 points.
The Tars held the SSC-leading scorer Sam Daniel to six under his average as the senior led Florida Tech (0-3, 0-1 SSC) with 24 points and six rebounds. Jordan Major went for 17 points and five assists while Richard Coil tallied 12 points and six rebounds.
The two teams played back and forth to start with a Daniel four-point play knotting the score at 21 with 7:27 left in the first. Clark hit a three a minute later to spark a mini-run and give the Tars a 29-23 lead at the 5:24 mark.
Freshman Parker Davis then entered the game and went off, scoring seven-straight points to extend the Tars advantage to 36-26 in the final three minutes of the half. A Philpott three-point play, Clark tip-in and Connor Mckim three-pointer then gave the Tars a 44-26 advantage in the final 90 seconds of the period.
Rollins went on to take a 44-28 lead into the break.
The Tars got ahead by as many as 53-37 early in the period, but Tech came clawing back and closed the gap to 58-51 with 12:16 left to play.
Eric Castaneda later put the Tars back up by 16 with a three-pointer to make it 73-57 only to again see the Panthers come back and make it a 73-66 gap with 4:04 remaining. Philpott then scored 10 of the game's next 13 points and the defense came up with key stops to seal the Tars first victory of the season.
Despite playing without senior superstar Jeff Merton for a second-straight game, the Tars depth shined as the bench outscored Tech 23-8.
Rollins shot 53 percent from the field and held the Panthers to 46 percent shooting, including just 14-of 41 three-point tries. The Tars won the battle on the boards, outrebounding FIT 32-29.
- Tom Klusman is 678-395 in 38 years as the Tars head coach; he is one of just 16 NCAA Division II coaches with 600 or more wins.
- Rollins leads the all-time series against Florida Tech 72-32, including a 39-19 advantage in games played in Winter Park. The two schools first played on January 13, 1970 with Rollins winning 103-84.
- The Tars are 27-14 all-time in Sunshine State Conference openers.
- Against Clark Atlanta, Sam Philpott became the 40th player in Rollins men's basketball history to eclipse 1,000 career points. He and teammate Jeff Merton are both members of the club.
- Rollins was picked to finish second in the Sunshine State Conference Preseason poll; Florida Tech came in at No. 8.
Rollins is back in action on Saturday, November 18 traveling to Boca Raton to face Lynn. Tip off is set for 4 p.m. Fans can catch the action live on the new SSC Digital Network and listen live on the Tars Sports Network at RollinsSports.com.