MELBOURNE, Fla. – Tiffin men's basketball came alive in the second-half to run away from Florida Tech but then had to hold on tight to defeat the Panthers 78-74 to improve to 2-0 at the Florida Tech Winter Classic.
The Dragons will return home with an overall record of 5-7 and enjoy a well-earned break as they have 10 days off before a road game at West Liberty on Dec. 30.
The story of the game came down to runs for each team, as Florida Tech opened the contest on a 26-11 run over the first 10:56. From that point until there was 4:51 remaining in regulation (a 24:13 stretch), TU enjoyed a 62-28 advantage over the Panthers. Turnovers against a tough Florida Tech press would help the Panthers score the next 16 unanswered, but the Dragons made their free throws to hold on in the end.
Tiffin went from shooting 4-16 (25%) from deep in the first-half to 8-15 (53%), and was able to outscore Florida Tech 20-9 on the break. Justin Miller scored 15 points including 5-8 from deep, while Joshua Williams added 16, Austin Adams 13, and Shane Waldon 10. Williams also recorded a career-high eight rebounds in the win.
TU got off to a slow start, unable to make shots from deep (1-8) in the early going as the Panthers took a 21-11 advantage into the second media timeout at the 10:25 mark.
The deficit would grow to 15, 26-11, with 9:04 remaining. The Dragons countered with a run, though, as shots began falling and defense picked up the rest of the half. Over the remaining nine minutes, TU outscored Florida Tech 20-5, heading into halftime knotted at 31.
Highlighting the run was a nifty old-fashioned three-point play from Thomas Hickman, a three from well beyond the arc that was splashed in by Justin Miller, and a triple from the top of the key off the hands of Austin Adams that banked in to tie things up with six seconds left in the opening period.
Tiffin grabbed their first lead of the game immediately after the break, as Joshua Williams knocked down a three from the corner on the first possession.
Miller took over the game for about a five-minute stretch midway through the second period, draining three triples in a row and dishing out a beautiful assist to Adams for a backdoor layup as Tiffin flipped the script on Florida Tech and gained a 15-point lead of their own at 64-49 with 9:16 to play.
The Dragon advantage would grow to as many as 19 at the 4:51 mark, but Florida Tech responded with 16 unanswered points over the next three minutes to cut the lead to just three, 73-70.
Adams would finally break the scoring drought for Tiffin, converting a layup with 50 seconds left to build the lead back up to five. TU was able to make free throws over the remainder of the game, and Tiffin held on for the 78-74 victory.