Tampa, Fla. (November 6, 2006) - The Saint Leo men's basketball team opened its 2006-07 exhibition schedule with a 66-50 loss to the Division I University of South Florida Bulls on Monday night at USF's Sun Dome.  The Bulls outscored the Lions 42-26 in the second half to break a half-time tie.

Saint Leo was led by a pair of Tampa natives on the night, as junior Jonathan Banks and senior J.J. Turner each scored nine points in defeat for the Lions.  USF forward Melvin Buckley led all scorers with 24 points in the game, while McHugh Mathis added 19 for the Bulls.

The game was close throughout the first half with neither side leading by more than four points.  Saint Leo held a three-point lead late in the first stanza, but the teams went into the half-time locker room tied at 24-24.

The Lions again opened a three-point lead to start the second frame, and eventually opened their largest lead of the game at 43-38 on a three-pointer by Turner with 12:33 remaining in the contest.  However, USF went on a 15-0 run over the next six-minutes to open up a 53-43 advantage and never looked back.

USF shot 52% on the night (25-of-48), while Saint Leo shot 35% from the field (22-of-63).  The Bulls were 12-of-24 from the free throw line, while the Lions visited the charity stripe just twice in the game (1-of-2).  South Florida controlled the glass, as the Bulls held a 40-29 advantage in total rebounds, although SLU held the edge 16-14 in offensive boards.

The Lions will continue their exhibition schedule on Thursday evening with a trip to Orlando, Fla. to face Division I Central Florida.  Opening tip is slated for 7:30 p.m.