SAINT LEO, Fla. – The Saint Leo University men’s basketball squad could not overcome a hot-shooting free-throw team in the Florida Southern Moccasins as they came into the Bowman Center and, benefitted by 26 points from the charity stripe, defeated the Lions 79-76 in Sunshine State Conference action on Wednesday evening at the Bowman Center.
In a game played similar to the Rollins contest last Saturday, the Lions would not let Florida Southern (12-4, 2-1 SSC) run away with the score. The Lions saw a dunk by senior Kyle Rowland get things started and both teams would go back-and-forth through the first 10 minutes, with the Lions holding a slim two-point lead at the 10 minute media timeout. SLU would maintain the momentum out of the break for the next five minutes as they extended their lead over the SSC’s top-ranked preseason team to as much as four points before FSC put together their first run of the game.
A Braxton Williams three-pointer with 6:49 remaining in the first half cut the Lions’ lead to just one point and sent the Mocs on an 18-6 run through the next five minutes that gave Florida Southern an eight-point lead. Two clutch baskets by Quentin Cullop, one coming from behind the three-point arc, helped give Saint Leo some momentum before the halftime horn, where Florida Southern led 34-31.
Saint Leo (7-8, 1-2 SSC) would continue to cut into the lead at the beginning of the second half, only needing 2:19 to tie the game at 39 after a trey from sophomore Matt Salay found nothing but net. The back-and-forth game that ensued would feature a total of 12 lead changes and no team gaining more than a six-point advantage for the remainder.
After Florida Southern gained that six-point lead with 8:33 remaining, they would only get three more buckets from the field for the rest of the contest, but they would win the game from the free-throw line. The Mocs would shoot eight free-throws and make seven, including two with just 13 seconds on the clock to keep the lead. A game-tying three-pointer by Cullop with three seconds remaining sailed wide and was rebounded by Florida Southern to seal the Mocs’ win.
The Mocs managed to win the game despite shooting just 32 percent (23-for-73) from the field. Compare the Mocs poor shooting night with the Lions’ 48 percent evening and Florida Southern’s success from the free-throw line, where they were 26-for-30, made the difference.
The Lions’ big men outscored their counterparts from FSC 36-20, but the Mocs more than doubled up Saint Leo in points off turnovers (17-to-7) and second chance points (27-to-13). They also outscored the Lions 31-11 with bench personnel.
Cullop led four Lions who were all in double figures as he had 23 points. Jordan Prais added 15 points, Josue Vazquez dropped in 12 and Rowland chipped in 11 points in the loss.
The Lions now turn their attention to Florida Tech as they will travel to Melbourne this Saturday to face the Panthers. Tip-off for the Sunshine State Conference contest is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. and will be broadcast live on the Saint Leo Lions AudioCast Network.