TAMPA, Fla. – By no way did it come easy, but after needing five extra minutes to finally fend off Tampa, third-ranked Nova Southeastern is headed back to Fort Lauderdale, Fla. as the Sunshine State Conference regular season champions for the first time in program history. Eddie Puisis silenced the Spartan crowd time and time again, pouring in a career-high 28 points off the bench, before an 11-2 run to start overtime put the finishing touches on a memorable 97-91 win. With the victory, the Sharks have locked up the No. 1 seed in the SSC Tournament, and now at 23-2 on the year, have set the program mark for the most wins in a single season.
INSIDE THE MATCHUP:
Score: Nova Southeastern 97, Tampa 91 (OT)
Records: Nova Southeastern (23-2, 17-2 SSC), Tampa (13-13, 7-11 SSC)
Location: Bob Martinez Athletics Center | Tampa, Fla.
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INSIDE THE STATS:
- Puisis hit 8-of-11 from beyond the arc, the most three’s made by a Nova Southeastern player in a single game this season.
- Mark Matthews notched his 12th double-double of the season in the effort, finishing with 16 points and a team-high 12 rebounds.
- Following 25 more forced turnovers Saturday, the Sharks have now forced 20-plus turnovers 13 times on the year.
- Dwayne Gibson tallied a career-high six steals in the win, giving him 46 overall for the year.
- After allowing Tampa to shoot 63.6 percent in the first half, the Sharks held the Spartans to 38.5 percent in both the second half and overtime.
BEYOND THE BOXSCORE:
- The Sharks’ 23 victories this season equal their win total from the last two seasons combined.
- Entering Saturday, Puisis’ previous career high was 22 points set earlier this year at Palm Beach Atlantic. He totaled 33 points throughout his entire freshman season in 2017-18.
- Nova Southeastern has now beaten Tampa in each of the past four meetings.
- The Sharks’ 55 first-half points mark the 12th time this season in which they scored at least 50 points in the opening 20 minutes.
- With the win, the Sharks now improve to 1-1 in overtime contests this season, and 5-3 overall in such games under head coach Jim Crutchfield.
The Sharks will honor their four seniors – Gibson, David Dennis, Pat Huffine and Lukas Landgren – on Senior Night next Wednesday when they host Palm Beach Atlantic. NSU knocked off the Sailfish, 100-95, in the season’s first meeting back on Jan. 23. For complete coverage of the action, follow the Sharks on Twitter @NSU_MBasketball or visit the schedule page on NSUSharks.com.