Jacksonville Sports Day

HOOPS: Tampa Falls to No. 21 Florida Southern

LAKELAND, Fla. – The University of Tampa men’s basketball team could not overcome a second half scoring drought against No. 21 Florida Southern on Wednesday evening, despite out-rebounding the Moccasins falling 74-76.

Florida Southern opened the game with a 10-point outburst as the Moccasins swished two three-point opportunities. After trailing 16-3, the Spartans offense was jump-started by Alberto Moreno. Moreno tallied seven points in two minutes as UT went on a 13-0 scoring stretch.

FSC’s senior leader, Slinky Jones, picked up his third foul with 8:04 left in the first half. Vincent Biffle took over for Tampa in the middle of the half, scoring ten points in a six minute stretch, including a three-pointer to take the lead at 23-22. Devon Colley extended the Spartans lead to 30-26 with a magnificent up-and-under layup.

Colley ended the half with nine points, making 3 of 4 from the charity stripe. The Moccasins started off 7-10 from the field, however, the Spartans defense held them to 4-18 for the remainder of the half. Tampa dominated the points in the paint, 20-2, in the opening twenty minutes. Biffle and Moreno led the way for the Spartans with 10 points apiece in the first half. Jonathon Lawton scored 10 points for the Moccasins, which led their offense.

Heading into the break, UT held a 40-35 advantage over No. 21 Florida Southern.

Moreno kept the hot hand after halftime, scoring five points in the opening two minutes of play. Lawton registered four points in response to Moreno’s scoring stretch. With 13:17 remaining, Florida Southern’s Slinky Jones grabbed the momentum with a key three-pointer to give FSC a 53-52 lead.

Biffle notched two jumpers for Tampa before FSC’s Rico Releford hit back-to-back long-range baskets. The Spartans offense went cold shooting 2 of 10 from the field during the middle of the half, and did not score a field goal in the final 2:46.

Moreno scored a game-high 17 points in 30 minutes of play. Anthony Gamble could not find a rhythm tonight as he entered foul trouble in the first half, and ultimately fouled out in the final minutes.

The University of Tampa will host their first conference game of the year on Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. against Barry University.

GAME NOTES:  The Spartans accumulated 49 rebounds, the most since November 28th, 2015 against Nova Southeastern (51).  The two teams combined to shoot 14-42 (33%) from three point range Cedric Belemene grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds, six of which were offensive boards.  Moreno entered this contest averaging 10.2 points per game; he logged 10 points in the first half.
Biffle has scored at least 14 points in five of seven games this season. Tampa coach Richard Schmidt sits one victory away from 700 career wins.


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