Tampa Survives Scare to Notch First Victory

Tampa Survives Scare to Notch First Victory

TAMPA, Fla. - The University of Tampa men's basketball team held on to win its home opener against a pesky University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez team.

INSIDE THE MATCHUP:
Final: Tampa Spartans 68, Puerto Rico-Mayaguez Tarzans 67
Records: Tampa (1-2), Puerto Rico-Mayaguez (0-4)
Location: Martinez Center | Tampa, Fla.
All-time Series: Tampa remains perfect in the all-time series with the Tarzans as it is now 7-0 versus UPRM. 
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HOW IT HAPPENED:
1st Half | Tampa shot just over 45 percent from the field to take a 39-31 lead to the break. The Spartans also connected on six 3-pointers, shooting at a 42.9 percent clip from beyond the arc. Mekhi Biffle and Austin Rettig both came off the bench to score 12 and 10 points respectively. Biffle was a perfect 5-for-5 in the first half as the freshman also connected on a pair of 3-pointers. Tampa would lead by as many as 13 points in the opening half, though the Tarzans cut into the Spartan lead with the final five points of the half.

2nd Half | Puerto Rico-Mayaguez mounted an early rally, cutting the UT lead to four points. The Tarzans would then pull within one point on a jumper at 13:26 to make it 46-45 in favor of Tampa. UPRM would then grab its first lead since thew opening minutes of the game on a 3-pointer with 10:08 on the clock to give the visitors a 51-50 edge. Trailing 54-52 with 8:50 to play in regulation, the Spartans went on a 10-1 run in just under three minutes to grab a 62-55 lead. UPRM would not go away, continuing to dig into the Spartan lead. Tampa held a 68-63 lead as UPRM scored four unanswered points to make Tampa's lead 68-67. The Tarzans would force a late turnover and had an unsuccessful shot at the buzzer to secure the thin Tampa victory. Duke Shelton played the entire half for Tampa, scoring 12 points while grabbing 10 rebounds in the second.

INSIDE THE STATS:
• Shelton led all Spartans with 16 points, 12 of which he scored in the second half. The junior also grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds.

• In his first career game at the Martinez Center, Biffle finished with 12 points. He also tallied a pair of rebounds and a steal.

• Rettig finished with 12 points as Pat Bacon added 11 to make it four Spartans scoring in double figures.

• Senior Matt Johnson came off the bench and registered a team-high eight assists. He also registered a pair of steals from his point guard position. 

• Tampa shot 41.1 percent from the field, as the Tarzans came in at 43.9 percent. 

• UT outrebounded its opponent 42-35. The Spartans did commit 18 turnovers while forcing just 12.

BEYOND THE BOXSCORE:
• Shelton secured his first double-double of the season.

Anthony Gamble earned his first career start on Wednesday for Tampa.

• Bacon has now scored in double figures in all three games of his sophomore season.

• The Spartans are now victorious in four of its last five season openers.

• A total of 12 Spartans saw the floor against Puerto Rico-Mayaguez.

UP NEXT:
Tampa opens Sunshine State Conference play on Saturday at 4 p.m., against Nova Southeastern. Live stats will be available through TampaStats.com, and video will be streamed through TampaSpartans.tv.

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