Tampa, Fla. (March 8, 2008) – The seventh seeded Saint Leo University men’s basketball team (14-15) suffered a season-ending 75-55 loss to the No. 3 seed University of Tampa (20-7) on Saturday afternoon in the Sunshine State Conference Tournament Semifinal. Tampa will face top-seed Florida Southern College in the SSC Tournament Championship on Sunday at 1:00 p.m.
All five Tampa starters scored in double figures to lead the Spartans to the win. Tampa forward Chris Evans scored a game-high 20 points, while fellow senior forward Jeremy Black registered a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds in the win.
Saint Leo was led by sophomore Jordan Prais (Lakeland, Fla.) who scored 10 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Junior Eric Sharper (Orlando, Fla.) pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds in defeat for the Lions.
A closely played first half saw a total of seven lead changes and four ties, as neither team led by more than six points in the opening frame. The Lions held that six-point lead with 6:58 left in the first half when Walter Perkins (Fr., Valrico, Fla.) hit back-to-back lay-ups. Tampa closed the half on an 11-4 run to take a one-point lead at the half.
The Spartans came out of the break, and carried on their run, scoring the opening seven points of the second half and 13 of the first 17 points overall in the second stanza. Saint Leo closed to within nine on three occasions, but Tampa used a 10-2 run to stretch its lead to 17 and put the game out of reach.
UT led by as many as 21 points down the stretch before settling for the final margin of 20 to advance to Sunday’s title game.
Saint Leo shot 33.3% (20-of-60) for the game, and the Lions were just 5-of-27 (18.5%) in the second half. Meanwhile, Tampa shot 44.4% (24-of-54) from the floor in the contest. The Lions held the rebounding edge 42-35 overall, including a 16-7 advantage on the offensive glass.
The Spartans took advantage of Saint Leo’s 17 turnovers, outscoring the Lions 24-4 in points off of turnovers and the home team also outscored SLU 14-0 in fast break points.