SAINT LEO, Fla. - The Saint Leo men's basketball team shot 51 percent from the field and rebounded from a 36-31 halftime deficit to defeat visiting Southeastern University (Fla.) 64-53 in the Lions' season opener at home on Friday night from a rowdy Bowman Center.
In his first game as the Lions' leader, Head Coach Lance Randall and nearly an entirely new lineup jumped out to a hot start in the early moments of the contest, taking as much as a nine point lead before the second media break. Keeping the crowd pumped with their up-tempo pace, the Lions drained four 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes, but it would be a scoring drought to close the half that allowed the visitors from Lakeland, Fla. back into the game.
Leading 25-19 with six minutes left in the first stanza, the Lions (1-0) would only bucket six points for the remainder of the half. It was a drought where the Fire developed the hot hand, scoring 17 points and taking a 36-31 lead into the lockers.
A back-and-forth game greeted the teams out of the half as the Lions wasted little time closing the gap, reclaiming the lead with 16 minutes left. As the minutes ticked down, the Lions used their preseason training to push past Southeastern (4-1) with a 14-4 run over five minutes to take control.
Saint Leo would close out the game jumping out to as much as a 14 point lead before the final horn sounded.
All the stars for Saint Leo were new faces in the Green and Gold as Trent Thomas went 7-for-9 from the field and scored a game-high 19 points to lead the Lions. Marcus Ruh added 15 and Tom Neary also chimed in with 14 points. Defensively, Shaun Adams pulled down 11 boards and had a block to captain a squad that kept the visitors to under 40 percent shooting.
As a team, the Lions went 23-for-45 (51.1%) from the field and 46.2 percent (6-of-13) from behind the three-point line. The Lions managed 26 points from the reserves, led by Thomas' effort.
The visiting Fire saw Dwayne Johnson and Chris Carlyle both score 11 points in the loss.
Saint Leo continues the tough opening schedule as it hosts Southern Poly Tech (#20 NAIA) on Saturday afternoon. Tip is scheduled for 4 p.m. at the Bowman Center. For the latest news, information, and updates on Lions Men's Basketball and all other Saint Leo Athletics, visit SaintLeoLions.com.