MELBOURNE, Fla. – It was another “tale of two halves” story for the Saint Leo men’s basketball team as the Lions saw a 44-38 halftime lead evaporate into an 80-73 loss in Sunshine State Conference action on Saturday night. With the win, Florida Tech improves to 8-2 while the Lions drop to 6-2. Tonight’s game in Tech’s Clemente Center also marked the first conference contest of the season for both squads.
The lead changed hands several times in the second stanza, with the Lions responding to a 62-56 deficit by storming back to claim a 70-66 advantage with just 4:22 to go. The lead was short-lived as, with 3:41 to go in the game, things were all tied up for the eighth time of the night when Florida Tech’s Justin Sedlak tipped one in to make it 70-all.
With momentum shifting, the Panthers began to inch out ever so slightly, taking a 76-72 edge on a lay-in by Derek Hellemann and though an SLU free throw from Matt Kendrick got the Lions within three at just under a minute to go, but that was as close as the Lions would get to victory as the hosts hung on for the seven-point win.
Sedlak finished the night with 29 points and paced Tech on the boards with eight as the Panthers grabbed 42 rebounds as a team to Saint Leo’s 32. The hosts shot just over 48 percent from the floor and 76 percent at the free-throw line.
The lead flip-flopped a few times in the opener with Saint Leo jumping out to as much as a 32-20 advantage on an old fashioned three-point play by Walter Perkins with 6:44 to go in the period.
Perkins was one of three Lions in double-figures with a team-leading 13 points while Jeremy Jackson and Saladeem Dewberry each added 12 points. Perkins was a rebound shy of a double-double as well.
As a team, the Lions shot 45 percent from the floor and blistered the nets from behind the big arc, hitting seven 3-pointers and holding a 38.9 percentage from long distance.
Struggling from the free throw line, the Lions were 12-of-21 (57.1 percent) from the stripe.
Attempting to shake off only their second setback of 2010-11, the Lions will next face Trinity College on December 10th in New Port Richey, Fla. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.
Portions courtesy of Florida Tech Athletic Communications