SAINT LEO, Fla. – A 3-point stroke that had seemed to betray the Lions the entire season suddenly became their biggest ally on Saturday afternoon as the Saint Leo men’s basketball team hit six of them to nearly erase a 13-point second half deficit against Rollins. It was a rally came up short as the 18th-ranked Tars pulled out the 70-64 victory in Sunshine State Conference action from the Bowman Center.
A matchup that usually features two teams that are selective in their shooting and regularly use the majority of the shot clock, started the game in a shootout, with both teams combining for 23 points in the first five minutes.
Tied at 27 with five and a half minutes left, Saint Leo (11-17, 4-10 SSC) would experience one of their power outages as they would go scoreless over five minutes as Rollins (21-4, 12-2 SSC) would close out the half on a 14-2 run.
Out of the intermission, it did not appear much had changed in the first few minutes as Rollins opened up the lead to 13 points. Behind a small run over an 80 second span, Saint Leo cut the lead to just five points before Rollins would again expand it to 13 with 10 minutes to go.
The next nine minutes would be a flurry of thrilling shots that would get the pro-SLU crowd rocking as the long-range shots started falling.
A 56-43 lead quickly evaporated as Jeremy Jackson, Josue Vasquez and Dominick Robinson all connected on 3-pointers and Robinson also bucketed a layup to cut the Tars’ advantage to just two. That would mark the first of three times that Saint Leo would cut to deficit to just a single basket, but neither time could the Lions get the equalizer as Rollins connected on the following shot every time.
The Lions would resort to fouling the visitors in the last 30 seconds, but the Tars would connect on their free throws to seal the game away in their favor.
Despite the loss, four Lions scored in double-digits as Jordan Prais recording his first double-double since returning from an ankle injury last week. The senior from Lakeland, Fla. scored 10 points and pulled down 12 rebounds. Vazquez and Jackson finished with a team-high 14 points while Robinson finished with 10.
The Lions shot and astounding 52.1 percent (25-for-48) from the field while going 9-for-18 (50 percent) from behind the arc.
Heading out of Saint Leo with the season’ sweep, Rollins saw five players in double-figures led by Ryan Ferranti with 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting.
Dropping their second-straight SSC game, the Lions will head out of the Bowman Center for one final time in the regular season as they travel to St. Petersburg, Fla. and face Eckerd College on Wednesday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the McArthur Center on the Eckerd College campus.