DAYTONA BEACH, Fla- The University of Tampa squared off against Florida Tech in the Sunshine State Conference Tournament Championship Game. The Spartans used efficient offense and tough defense to claim the 68-57 victory. With the victory, Tampa earns an automatic bid to the NCAA South Region Tournament.
Juliana Cavallaro led the charge in the game for UT as the senior guard recorded 20 points and brought down nine rebounds. Elena de Alfredo contributed with 14 points and led the team with four assists. Angela Alvarez added 11 points, while Ellen Nurmi contributed with 10 points.
The Panthers pounced on the Spartans early as they jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead just two minutes into the game. Tampa was able to calm down, as they tied the game at 15 on an Alvarez layup with 1:21 left to play on the first quarter. UT was able to grab their first lead of the game at 19-17 when Cavallaro stole a pass from FIT and took it coast-to-coast for an easy layup with 20 seconds left to play.
De Alfredo would connect on a three point basket on the first shot of the second quarter to give UT a 22-17 lead. The Spartans would lead by as many as six in the period, and FIT would score the final four points of the half to send the game to the half at 32-31 in favor of Tampa.
Alvarez led UT off the bench in the half as the senior forward had nine points and five rebounds,
Tampa came out firing in the third quarter, going on a 9-0 run to push their lead to 10 at 41-31. Cavallaro made two three-pointers during the run, while Nurmi added the other three-point field goal. UT would hold the lead the remainder of the quarter and went into the fourth quarter leading 51-42.
Florida Tech would be able to pull within six points of the Spartans, but UT was able to connect on their free-throws down the stretch to seal the SSC Championship.
Offensively, the Spartans would shoot 47.9 (23-48) percent from the field and 41.2 (7-17) percent from beyond the arc. Defensively they held the Panthers to just 35.8 (24-67) percent from the field.
Tampa would win the battle on the boards, outrebounding their opponent 38-35. UT was able to notch 24 points in the paint and 13 bench points.
The victory marked the first Sunshine State Tournament Championship for UT since the 2008-09 season.
Alvarez, Cavallaro, and Nurmi were named to the All-Tournament team, as Cavallaro was named the tournaments Most Valuable Player.
The Spartans will now await the NCAA Selection Show to determine where they will play the regional. The NCAA South Region Tournament runs from March 11-14.
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