W. BASKETBALL

Taja Green recorded a new career high 34 points while pulling down 13 boards
Taja Green recorded a new career high 34 points while pulling down 13 boards

Moccasins Douse Tampa Flame

Box Score

TAMPA, Fla. - The No. 24 University of Tampa women’s basketball team suffered its first loss in as many as 12 games giving the Spartans its only blemish in the Sunshine State Conference after a 77-72 decision to Florida Southern College. UT falls to 13-3 on the season and 5-1 in the conference as the Mocs move to 13-2 overall and 6-0 in the SSC.

A fierce first half centered around the SSC match-up as the lead changed as many as three times while tying twice. Tampa picked up an early five point lead after a layup from Jaleesa Harmon off the bench with 15:35 to go in the stanza providing a much needed flame. Connecting on 6-of-11 long range attempts, the Florida Southern Mocs battled its way back into the game taking the lead by seven with 2:55 on the clock. At the end of the period, the Spartans found itself in a five point hole and trailing at the half for the first time in as many as 13 games 36-31.

The upbeat tempo carried into the second half as Tampa dished out an 8-0 run from break to go up by two, 38-36 with 18:36 to go in regulation. Back and forth action between the conference’s top teams was no surprise to head coach Tom Jessee as the lead changed in the second half a total of eight times. With a sense of urgency brewing, Tampa made its last run following a pair of free throws from Gianna Messina to lead the game by two, 65-63 with 6:08 left. Two late 3-point shots by FSC’s Tanja Speaker and Chelsea Johnson put a dagger in the Spartans chest as UT would run out of time giving the team its first home loss in 25-straight games.

Hot shooting from the perimeter carried the Moccasins connecting on 13-of-27 long range attempts while holding a 38 percent field goal percentage for the contest. Tampa, shooting 43.9 percent for the game was only able to connect on 6-of-15 treys while outrebounding its opponent by a 44-to-38 clip.

The Spartans destroyed FSC with points in the paint by a 40-to-26 point margin for the game as the Mocs were able to capitalize on 21 points worth of Tampa turnovers.  Jonhson of Florida Southern recorded a team-best 21 points as Emma Cannon walked away with 17 total rebounds.

The game was one for the record books as once again senior forward Taja Green led all scorers tallying a double-double while registering a new career-high 34 points and 12 rebounds. The 34 points ties the mark for the second highest single game scoring record in Tampa history. A performance by fellow senior Catriana Messina proved to be stellar as the five-foot-five point guard was just one assist away from Tampa’s first ever triple-double scoring 11 points and handling a new career-best 12 boards while also dishing out nine assists.

Harmon was also able to produce her best game of the season as she connected on 8-of-14 attempts, good for 16 points while freshman guard Lindsey Watson recorded a team-high three steals.

Tampa hits the hardwood again this Saturday at 2:00 p.m. as the team travels to Nova Southeastern for the first meeting of the season.

Live stats and a webcast will be available through www.tampaspartans.com.

Fans may also follow University of Tampa athletics on Twitter (www.twitter.com/utspartans) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/tampaspartans). UT also offers blAst, a free text messaging service that sends text alerts following all Spartan events. To sign up, please register at www.tampaspartans.com.

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