PENSACOLA, Fla. (November 27, 2015) – NJCAA Region 8 No. 7 Miami Dade College built a 24-point halftime lead over No. 5 Tallahassee Community College then withstood a furious second half rally to knock off the Eagles 103-93 on the second day of play at the Select Physical Therapy Thanksgiving Classic hosted by Pensacola State College.
Tallahassee had a three-game winning streak snapped to fall to 7-3 while Miami Dade improved to 6-3 with the win.
Both teams have split its first two games at the event heading into Saturday's final day of play. Tallahassee will play nationally-ranked Trinity Valley (Texas) Community College while Miami Dade faces host Pensacola State.
Down 58-34 at the half, Tallahassee scored the first seven points of the second half and used an 11-1 run to pull within 14 following a three-pointer by Rashad Lewis. As it did throughout the second half, Miami Dade had an answer and used a 14-5 run to push its lead back to 23 (73-50) with 13:23 left in the game.
That's when Daishon Smith, who scored 20 of his team-high 26 points in the second half, began to heat up and once again breathed life into the Eagles.
Smith, who was a perfect 7-of-7 from the floor, ignited a 22-5 run with two of his five second-half three-pointers. Lewis' three-pointer capped the surge to bring Tallahassee within six, 78-72, near the 8:00 mark of the second half.
The Eagles' comeback attempt was dealt a blow when starting guard Ryan Johnson fouled out with 7:07 remaining and Tallahassee trailing 81-74. Miami Dade scored the next eight points to all but put the game away.
Smith kept things interesting with consecutive three-pointers sandwiched around a Miami Dade turnover to bring the Eagles within nine, 97-88, with 2:40 remaining but Tallahassee didn't get any closer.
Tallahassee knocked down 20-of-36 second-half field goal attempts and shot 50.8 percent (33-of-65) for the game, including a respectable 9-of-25 (36.0 percent) from long distance, but hit only 18-of-27 free throw attempts.
Miami Dade came out red hot and took a 27-13 lead near the midway point of the first half. Tallahassee gradually clawed its way back into the game and pulled within five, 37-32, on a basket by Smith at the 4:24 mark. Smith missed the and one, however, and Miami Dade closed the half on a 21-2 run.
In addition to 26 points, Smith tallied four rebounds, seven assists and two steals.
Austin Grimes came off the bench to contribute eight points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Lewis had eight points and seven assists.
Saturday's game with NJCAA No. 11 Trinity Valley tips off at 1 p.m. eastern and can be seen on Panhandle Sports Broadcasting.