Tallahassee pulls away late to down Pensacola State in PC opener

Photo courtesy of Phil Kelly
Photo courtesy of Phil Kelly

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (January 2, 2016) - Tallahassee Community College used a 13-1 run late in the second half to pull away from Pensacola State College en route to a 71-65 win over the Pirates on Saturday evening in the Panhandle Conference opener for both teams. 

The Eagles (12-7) have won five in a row and, more importantly, picked up a victory in their PC opener for the first time since 2011. Pensacola State (0-1 PC) is now 8-7. 

Tallahassee all but led from wire to wire – the Pirates had brief leads of 3-2, 12-11 and 16-15 early on – but, in typical Panhandle Conference fashion, the final verdict wasn't decided until the closing minutes. 

Clinging to a 47-45 lead, the Eagles put together a decisive run to all but seal the victory. Tallahassee outscored Pensacola State 13-1 over a span of 3:22 – the final eight unanswered, keyed by consecutive three-pointers from Rashad Lewis, to surge in front, 60-46, with 5:01 remaining. 

Pensacola State got no closer than seven prior to Shareef Smith's three-pointer in the final seconds to close out the scoring. 

Daishon Smith, despite an 8-of-15 night from the free throw line, paced Tallahassee with 18 points. David Simmons followed with 14 and Lewis added 12 on 4-of-9 shooting from three-point range. 

Tallahassee jumped out to a quick 11-3 lead, but the Pirates answered with a 9-0 run for a 12-11 lead. The Eagles regained the lead for good (17-16) on a basket by Simmons with 9:58 left in the first half but hit only 7-of-13 free throws in the opening half and took a narrow 35-31 lead to the intermission. 

As a team, Tallahassee overcame a 13-of-27 night at the free throw line. 

The Eagles will return to action on Wednesday when they travel to Gulf Coast State College for an 8:30 p.m. eastern tip with the Commodores.