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Eckerd wins to open SSC tournament

Eckerd coach Jim Harley had been trying to create the right chemistry all season. He hit on the correct formula Friday, adding Diego Chin-A-Sen to the mix.

Chin-A-Sen, a junior forward from the South American nation of Suriname, came off the Eckerd bench to score 16 of his career-high 22 points in the second half, and the Tritons upset Barry 83-63 in the opening round of the Sunshine State Conference men's tournament.

Eckerd advances to an SSC tournament semifinal at 6:30 p.m. today against North Florida, which surprised Florida Southern 87-80. In another upset, Saint Leo beat Florida Tech 87-74. Top seed Tampa routed Rollins 84-54.

"We've been looking for the right combinations," Harley said. "We were able to get Chin-A-Sen some time, and he helped us."

The Tritons (14-12), seeded sixth in the eight-team tournament, lost twice to Barry during the regular season and trailed the third-seeded Bucs (17-10) by one point before Chin-A-Sen made a layup that began a 10-0 run to close the first half. With Barry's Bobby Latham on the bench in foul trouble, Eckerd outscored the Buccaneers 19-5 to begin the second half and open a 53-30 lead.

Barry got within 66-57 with 3:52 remaining on a layup by former Lakewood High standout Marques Tampa, but Chin-A-Sen scored six consecutive points and Eckerd outscored the Bucs 17-6 down the stretch.

The Tritons outrebounded Barry 42-33 and outshot the Bucs 57 percent to 39 percent.

Eckerd's front line was dominating: Rodney Chatman led all scorers with 23 points, while Kerwin Thompson added 12 and Paul Kinsella 10.

Central Florida CC 89, SPJC 84: Marko Whitfield scored 32 points, including five key free throws down the stretch, as Central Florida Community College defeated St. Petersburg Junior College 89-84 at Palmetto's Manatee Civic Center in the state JUCO semifinals. CFCC faces Polk Community College. Darnell Jackson led SPJC (23-7) with 22 points.