Eckerd defeats Tampa when it counts most

Published March 3, 2006

ST. LEO - Eckerd lost twice to Tampa this season, but the story line changed in Thursday's Sunshine State Conference quarterfinal.

Damone Morris scored a game-high 22 for the No. 5 Tritons, who won 72-59 to advance to Saturday's semifinal against top-ranked Rollins at 2:30 p.m. The Tars beat host Saint Leo 80-64.

In Thursday's earlier games, Lynn defeated Florida Southern 75-71 in overtime and Barry topped Nova Southeastern 67-62. No. 3 Lynn and No. 7 Barry play at noon Saturday.

Eckerd, making a bid for its third straight final, won the 2004 title and last season lost to defending champion Lynn.

"We came in here saying (the Spartans) beat us twice and we can beat them," Eckerd coach Tom Ryan said. "That's all that was on our mind."

Tampa focused its defensive coverage primarily on all-conference players Andre King-Holland and Matt Cenatus, which freed Morris.

"I got a lot of open looks, a lot of transition baskets," Morris said.

"He's a sophomore, so he gets less attention than Andre and Matt," Ryan said.

Cenatus added 10 points and King-Holland eight.

The outcome hinged in part at the free-throw line, where Eckerd was 28-of-32, Tampa 12-of-21.

Jeremy Black led three Tampa players in double figures with 18 points and had a team-best seven rebounds. Mark Borders, the SSC player of the year, and Christopher Evans each scored 12.

Borders leaves with the school record for career assists, 649, and set a school record with 250 this season.

In the last of the four games, Rollins' John Thinnes made his first five 3-point shots and went 8-for-13 from beyond the arc to score a game-high 25.

Trailing by 17 in the second half, Saint Leo went on a 13-0 run to close within 68-64 before Rollins netted the game's last 12 points.

Scott Seifert led the Lions with 23 points to finish 12th on the school's career list with 1,221.

The women's quarterfinals are today, with these matchups: No. 6 Barry vs. No. 3 Florida Tech at noon; No. 7 Lynn vs. No. 2 Tampa at 2:30; No. 8 Florida Southern vs. No. 1 Rollins at 5; and No. 5 Saint Leo vs. No. 4 Nova Southeastern at 7:30.