LAKELAND - Florida Southern showed no ill effects of an 11-day layoff, coming out of the gates strong and then settling in for a 79-67 victory over Emmanuel in the opening day of the FSC/Terrace Hotel Classic played here Thursday in Jenkins Field House on the FSC campus.
The Moccasins, now 9-1 on the season, scored the first six points of the game and went on to outscore Emmanuel (6-3) by a 19-4 margin in the opening 6:28 of the contest.
"I was a little worried (with the long lay-off)," said FSC Head Coach Betsy Harris, "but we came out with a lot of energy, and kept up the energy the whole game."
Jensen Blassage and Shaquita Snow provided the spark for Florida Southern, each netting six points in the first period while Sydni Payne added five points as the Moccasins staked a 24-11 lead after the first 10 minutes.
Emmanuel crept back into the contest and pulled within eight twice in the second period, but the Moccasins closed out the quarter on a 15-7 run with seven points coming off the hands of Snow as Florida Southern took a 44-28 lead at intermission.
The Moccasins kept rolling in the third period, pushing the lead to 20 points, 48-28, in the opening minutes of the third period, and eventually taking a 25 point-lead twice in the quarter. Gianna Vastola was the big contributor with seven points while Blassage added five as the Mocs enjoyed a 68-46 lead with one period left.
Emmanuel rallied late, outscoring the Moccasins 12-2 to end the game and posted a 21-11 advantage in the fourth quarter.
"I wasn't too happy with the fourth-quarter, being outscored like that," said Harris. "We have a new rule that when we have a big lead in the fourth, we have to win by that margin."
"What we've been doing is we've been letting teams back in the game and then we play a good team, you can't overcome that," said Harris. "That's something we're trying to learn as a team."
Snow finished with a game-high 15 points, while Payne and Vastola added 13 and 11, respectively, with all three players coming off the bench for a combined 39 points, allowing Harris to be generous in her substitutions.
"A big difference from last year is this year we have a much deeper bench," said Harris, "by subbing five out at a time, we can keep our energy up and it tires out the other team."
Blassage finished with 14 points and dished out a game-high five assists for Florida Southern while Flo Ward added a season-high 10 points. Payne added four assists and four steals as nine of the ten Moccasins that played, scored.
Addie McNeely led Emmanuel with 13 points while Mikayla Trombley added 12. Keeley Chester and Ashlyn Loudermilk were also in double figures with 10 tallies each.
Both teams shot 47 percent from the field, but the Moccasin defense forced 21 turnovers and recorded 12 steals. The Moccasins helped themselves at the charity stripe, making 10-of-13 free throws.
This year's team is just the fourth Moccasin squad to stand at 9-1 through the first 10 games of the season. Florida Southern hopes to keep the energy going when it next takes the floor at 4 pm Friday against Lake Superior State in day two of the Terrace Hotel Classic while Emmanuel plays Livingstone at 2 pm.