SAINT LEO, Fla. – A three-point basket by Eckerd College’s Kornilous Donnell with 10 seconds left in regulation sent the game into overtime, where the visiting Tritons completed an astonishing comeback as they defeated the Saint Leo men’s basketball team 84-77 in Sunshine State Conference action from the Marion Bowman Activities Center on Wednesday night.
The Lions (14-15, 7-9 SSC) led for 39:50 of the contest. SLU got the scoring started with a trey from Quentin Cullop and a resounding dunk from Kyle Rowland as Saint Leo kept the Tritons at bay throughout the majority of the first half.
Although Eckerd would manage to close the gap to just one point 8:30 left in the opening half, the Lions would respond with an 8-0 run, and eventually see the lead expand to as much as 13 points in the final three minutes.
The Tritons (12-14, 4-11 SSC) would close the half on a mini-run of their own, closing the lead to just five points on a Wayne Sears trey at the buzzer.
Saint Leo would start the second half complete cold, and see their lead evaporate to just a lone point before again going on a run.
With the score at 39-38 in favor of the Green & Gold and 16:41 left, three buckets in the paint saw SLU go on a 9-2 run to again snuff an EC rally. The Lions would take that advantage to as much as 10 points with 5:42 left before Eckerd began to claw back.
After some back-and-forth basketball saw the Lions hold a 64-55 lead with 4:05 left, Eckerd would see a three from Chris Gray spark the visitors in the final few minutes.
Another trey by Joey Cantens, who had just come off the bench, dropped the Lions’ advantage to three and then an SLU turnover followed by an Adio Mutima dunk with 29 seconds left had the visitors down one.
A quick Eckerd foul and the subsequent free-throws from Anthony Gomez opened the advantage back to three, but Donnell would nail the three-point shot falling into his bench to tie the game for the first time, and with just 10 clicks left.
The Lions would quickly inbound the ball and manage to get two shots at the win, but the first chance from Cullop rimmed out and the second, by Jordan Prais, left his hand just a tick late and was waived off by the officials.
The extra session belonged to the visitors from St. Petersburg as they opened up a five-point lead in the first two minutes which they never surrender en route to the victory.
The overtime session made all the difference as Eckerd shot 57 percent (4-for-7) while the Lions were just 25 percent (2-for-8) accurate during the extra five minutes.
As a team, the Lions shot 39 percent (27-for-69) for the evening while Eckerd was 43 percent (29-for-67) accurate.
Saint Leo was guided by Cullop (25) and Prais (20) who posted 20-point performances, and by Rowland, the only other Lion in double-figures, with 11 points.
Rowland and Prais also posted the team-lead in rebounds with eight apiece.
Eckerd saw four players reach double-figures led by Lewis Lampley who posted a double-double with 15 points and 10 boards. Chris Gray added 14 and John Harper as well as Kornilous Donnell each dropped in 12 in the comeback win.
Another unfortunate thing is that the loss closes out the conference part of the Lions’ regular season schedule. Saint Leo finished Sunshine State Conference play 7-9 and will await the remaining eight teams, who all play SSC competition on Saturday, to determine their seeding in the upcoming 2009 BlueCross and BlueShield of Florida Sunshine State Conference Men’s Basketball Championships next week.
In the meantime, the Lions will close out their 2008-09 regular season as they face Palm Beach Atlantic on Saturday. Tip-off on the final game of the season at the Marion Bowman Activities Center is set for 4:00 p.m. It will also be Senior Day for the Lions as Saint Leo will bid farewell to their lone senior, Kyle Rowland, before the game.