SAINT LEO, Fla. – The Saint Leo men's basketball team pushed their win-streak to three games as the Lions handed visiting Valdosta State a 69-59 defeat in NCAA South Region action from the Bowman Center on Saturday afternoon.
In beating the visiting Blazers (3-3) for the second time this season, the Lions shot 38 percent from the floor and opened up as much as a 20 point, second half margin on the visitors. It was a game the Lions won from the free throw line with 22 points coming from the charity stripe, including 11 in a row at one point.
"I thought we defended them excellent in the first 35 minutes," Head Coach Lance Randall said. "In the stat line at the end of the game we held them to 36 percent from the floor and they had (22) turnovers and I'm very pleased about that."
"We knew they were going to come out fiery and they're very talented, and we challenged (our guys) to have the right mindset and keep attacking. I thought our guys did a terrific job of that for most of the game."
Holding off a furious rally by the visitors from Valdosta, Ga., the Lions (5-2) saw the margin whittled down to just six points in the waning moments of the game, but the free throw accuracy is what sealed the win for Saint Leo. As the clock ticked down, the Blazers reverted to fouls with the hopes that the Lions would miss their free shots, but Saint Leo made good on every chance when some thought the game was in question.
Trent Thomas again led Saint Leo with 19 points, nine coming from the three-point line. He also managed seven rebounds and four steals in the win. Also in double-digits, Marcus Ruh tallied 16 points and was a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line.
Aside from the free throw differential, where the Lions connected on 10 more chances than Valdosta, Saint Leo also capitalized on the 22 turnovers with 22 points while the Blazers only managed 16 points from 13 Saint Leo giveaways.
Josh Spark led the Blazers with 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting before fouling out in the final minutes. He was one of three Valdosta State players who reached the foul limit in a game that proved to be a physical contest.
The Lions will now take some time away from games to focus on final exams for the Fall semester; but Saint Leo will get back to it in 10 days when they face New Orleans on the road. The Lions will travel to Louisiana and tip off with the Privateers on Tuesday, December 13 at 7 p.m. For the latest news, information, and updates on Lions Basketball and all other Saint Leo Athletics, visit SaintLeoLions.com.