DELAND, Fla. – The Saint Leo men's basketball team rallied from a double-digit deficit and had a chance at an equalizer in the final moments, but the Lions' rally came up inches short in a 74-69 loss to Division I Stetson University on Saturday afternoon.
It was a game that saw the host Hatters (3-1) hold a 12 point lead over the Green and Gold with seven minutes left in the game. Two Marcus Ruh 3-pointers and a Taylor Bassett trey on the Lions' next three possessions suddenly had the lead cut to three with 5:19 left.
The game hovered around a six point margin for the next three minutes until Saint Leo's Trent Thomas connected on another three to again cut the margin to just a single basket. That was followed with a Dominick Robinson layup where he was fouled driving through the lane and still managed to sink his shot. He converted the additional free throw to tie the game at 67 with just 1:06 left to play.
A tip-in basket and foul on the next possession put the hosts back on top but Saint Leo was afforded one more shot.
Down by three, the Lions (2-2) got the ball to Robinson who swung wide and launched a wide-open look from long range. The shot looked true, but rattled around the rim then popped out and was rebounded by Stetson with just six seconds left. The Hatters converted their free throw chances, sealing the game and putting to rest any hopes of a Saint Leo comeback.
"I thought we did great job battling all game and we did a better job executing in the second half," Saint Leo Head Coach Lance Randall said. "Stetson's offensive rebounding and their ability to get to the free throw line (16-of-19 free throws) hurt us down the stretch. I'm disappointed about the loss but feel this team is getting better every day and that I'm pleased about."
Aside from the large margin the Hatters created during the four minute stretch of the second half where Saint Leo did not score, the game was tightly contested throughout. It proved to be a contest where there were six ties and eight lead changes.
Trent Thomas paced the Lions' offense with 21 points on 8-for-16 shooting, while Ruh followed him with 18 of his own on a 4-for-6 effort from 3-point land. Robinson also reached double-digits as all his points (10) came in the second half.
Saint Leo shot 44 percent (26-of-59) from the field and connected on an astounding 12-of-23 three pointers (52.2%). The Lions only made half (5-of-10) of their free throws in the game.
Stetson also had three players in double figures with Adam Pegg dropping in 17 points on a 7-for-9 effort. Liam McInerney added 13 and Chris Perez added 10 points in the Hatter victory.
The specialty stats saw Saint Leo score 31 points off of turnovers but Stetson, behind 15 offensive boards, managed 15 second-chance points.
The Lions will return home as they now turn their attention to Puerto Rico-Bayamon, who visits the Bowman Center on Wednesday afternoon. Game time has been changed from what was originally announces as they Lions will play at 4 p.m. on the day before Thanksgiving. For the latest news, information, and updates on Lions Men's Basketball and all other Saint Leo Athletics, visit SaintLeoLions.com.