ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Despite a career performance from Pat Bacon, the University of Tampa men's basketball team was dealt a double-overtime los at the hands of Tiffin to begin the Tampa Classic.
The Spartans fell to 3-7 after the overtime loss while the Dragons improve to 5-5 on the season.
Bacon led all players with 31 points in 50 minutes of play, as the freshman never left the court. The guard added eight rebounds and eight assists, shooting a perfect 4-for-4 from beyond the arc while converting 11-of-12 free throw attempts.
Forwards Austin Rettig and Marcel Robinson each provided a strong compliment to Bacon, scoring 25 and 24 points, respectively. The latter grabbed eight boards while providing a strong offensive weapon coming off the bench.
The Spartans out-shot the Dragons in every offensive category, but Tiffin was able to use a strong presence in the pain to outlast Tampa, picking up 12 more rebounds than UT.
Rettig opened the half with five early points as the two squads traded buckets. A trey from Robinson allowed the Spartans to extend their lead to six points at 20-14 over the Dragons. Bacon drained a jumper in the paint to increase the lead, finishing the first half of play with nine points and a team-best seven boards.
Tampa ended the opening half with a 38-30 lead over Tiffin. Junior Rettig led all student-athletes with 12 points in the first 20 minutes while Robinson followed closely with 11 points.
Tiffin began the second half of action with a three-pointer before Tampa scored six unanswered points to build a strong 43-33 lead. The Dragons responded with a series of scores to pull within four at 43-39 in favor of the Spartans. Rettig continued his scoring rampage with seven points in under four minutes of play.
The Dragon defense made a series of key plays to shrink the lead and stifle the Spartan shooters. Tiffin came within two points at 58-56 but a three-pointer from Robinson gave the Spartans some breathing room with just under nine minutes remaining. Tiffin's Tony Kinard sunk a crucial trey to force just the second tied score of the contest, before Robinson mirrored with his fourth three-pointer of the night.
Tiffin claimed its first lead of the night with 6:15 left in the second half. Tampa once again turned to the three-point threat of Robinson to return the lead in their favor as the forward drained his sixth trey of the contest to tie his career-high and mark the most this season.
Bacon converted a pair of free throws to knot the contest 77-77 with 5.5 seconds in regulation. The Spartan defense held the Dragons at bay to force an overtime period.
Tampa began overtime period with Bacon converting four free throws in as many chances, as the two teams remained deadlocked, trading points without either side surrendering a strong advantage.
In a repeat of the dramatic finish of regulation, Bacon returned to the charity stripe looking at a two-point deficit with 1.6 seconds remaining. The poised freshman converted both free throws to tie the contest once again, this time at 90-90, to ensure another overtime period.
The Dragons mustered up a series of scores that the Spartans had no answer for, as Tampa fell 103-99 at the conclusion of the second overtime period.
UT will continue the Tampa Classic at home in the Bob Martinez Athletic Center, facing off against Eastern New Mexico for a 4 p.m. Sunday matinee. Live stats as well as a live video webcast will be made available through www.tampaspartans.com.
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