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Eckerd too good for Tampa
By RODNEY PAGE
Published January 27, 2005
St. PETERSBURG - Eckerd College continues to look like the Sunshine State Conference team to catch after an impressive 83-61 win over Tampa Wednesday night. The Spartans, on the other hand, are now forced to play catch-up.
The Tritons (13-5, 6-1) are off to their best conference start in school history and are leading the league by one game over Lynn. Tampa fell to 12-5, 3-4 and limped out of Wednesday's game with two injured players.
Freshman forward Chris Evans missed the game with an injured right foot, and his replacement, Shane Thorson, left in the first half with a sprained left ankle. After a sluggish start by both teams, Eckerd started pulling away late in the half when Steve Berg hit a three-pointer and Chris Maddux and Matt Cenatus each hit two free throws. Tampa cut the lead to 21-20 with under three minutes to go, but Will Hennegan hit two straight shots and Craig Hazel made a layup to make it 27-20. The Tritons led 32-25 at halftime, then returned and really started to pour it on.
They went on a 17-5 run to start the second half, highlighted by a Cenatus three-pointer and two fancy layups by Per Hultman-boye. Before Tampa could catch its breath, Eckerd led 49-32.
"We persevered in the first half and then started making some shots in the second half," Eckerd coach Tom Ryan said. "Our defense was pretty good in the second half. I think our team now realizes that it's all about defense."
There was a moment in the second half when it looked as if Tampa might make it close. The Spartans went on an 8-2 run to cut the lead to 10 points with 10 minutes left, but Eckerd's Hennegan made a free throw and Charles Bryant hit a layup after rebounding a missed foul shot to stretch the lead.
"Once they got it to within 10 I told the guys that we've got to get going," Bryant said. "We actually did it. In past games we haven't done that. We'd let teams get to five or two or whatever. Tonight we were able to put it on them."
Berg led the Tritons with 16 points and Greg Plummer added 15. Tampa was led by Mark Borders' 14.
"That's about the best we can do," Tampa coach Richard Schmidt said. "We didn't have our best rebounder (Evans). Plus, we're a young, inexperienced team. We lose concentration and get behind and then we're forced to play catch-up. We didn't play well and Eckerd did play well."