ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Saint Leo men’s basketball team (11-18, 4-11) had their losing streak extended to three games Wednesday evening, dropping a Sunshine State Conference contest to the Eckerd College Tritons (17-8, 10-5 SSC) 72-60, from the McArthur Center.
The loss drops Saint Leo into a tie for eighth-pace with Florida Tech at 4-11. Saint Leo currently owns the tiebreaker over Florida Tech having swept the season series. The Lions cannot afford a loss in their next contest, as it would drop them into a tie with the University of Tampa in which they do not have the tiebreaker advantage.
Jeremy Jackson led the way for the Lions, as he poured in 16 points (6-for-11). He was followed by Jordan Prais, as he collected 15 points, five rebounds, and a game-high three assists. Matt Kendrick was nearly unstoppable for the Green & Gold, dropping in 10 points and collecting in team-best 13 rebounds to go along with four blocks in 23 minutes of action.
As a team, the Lions shot s terrific 44.7 percent (21-for-47) from the field and connected on 4-of-8 three-point field goals. Unfortunately, those efforts could not overcome nine misses shots from the free-throw line, as well as being out-rebounded 36-29 and committing 15 turnovers.
The two teams exchanges baskets in the opening minute. Unfortunately, the Lions one-point lead at the 18:39 mark was the only advantage they possessed all night. The Tritons, behind a 19-point effort from John Harper, went on a 14-3 run to gain a 10-point advantage with 12:37 left in the first.
Jackson and Daniel Oliver shrunk the lead to single-digits on back-to-back baskets at 10:55, but it did not match the offensive power that Eckerd display moments later. Both Harper and Zaronn Cann converted baskets in the midst of the Tritons 7-0 run to drive the lead up to 35-18 with 3:23 left to play.
The Tritons cruised into to the break up 13 on the back on 18 points inside the paint.
Out of the halftime break, Eckerd used the first six minutes to pad their 21-point advantage. The squad kept a running margin of 16 for the majority of the reaming minutes. Still, the Lions were able to muster one more gasp, going on an 8-0 run to cut the lead down to eight, 65-55, with 4:02 left to play. However, the push wasn’t enough as the home-standing Tritons put the Lions away for good with Harper scoring seven of the squads final nine points, sealing the 72-60 win.
The Lions will close out conference action this Saturday, February 27 against the Barry University Buccaneers. The SSC challenge is set to get underway at 5:30 p.m. from the Marion Bowman Activities Center. It also marks senior day for Saint Leo, as it will say goodbye to a quartet of student-athletes.