Lions Upended by No. 9 West Liberty, 81-67
SAINT LEO, Fla. – The Saint Leo men's basketball team faced another tough test on Saturday afternoon when 9th-ranked West Liberty University came into the Bowman Center and used the nation's top-ranked scoring offense to claim an 81-67 win in non-conference action. With the triumph, West Liberty improves to 9-1 overall and the Lions, who have dropped the last two contests, fell to 5-4.
"We didn't handle the pressure very well and we turned it over," Head Coach Lance Randall said after the game. "They played fast and we missed some easy shots again. We missed seven layups in the first half, and we have to do a little better job finishing. I thought we battled on the glass against a team that's averaging 17 offensive rebounds a game and we held them to (six), and we got 15 ourselves. In a game like this there are going to be a lot of peaks and valleys and we stayed in a valley too long; you can't do that against a good team."
The Lions battled tough once they managed to get into rhythm, but that came after the visitors from West Virginia capitalized on poor early play to take an 11-2 lead. Saint Leo would rally to lead by as much as four points with four minutes left in the first half, but a late Hilltopper rally saw them gain an eight-point advantage into the halftime break.
A sluggish start to the second half by the Green and Gold saw West Liberty push the lead into double-digits with 17 minutes left, a margin which the Lions would not be able to overcome.
A high-paced game saw a total of 49 baskets made and 10 combined players reach double-digits in scoring as the Hilltoppers blistered the nets behind a 48.2 percent (27-of-56) shooting effort. Holding their own from the field, the Lions were 22-of-59 (37.3%), but the 10-to-3 differential in made 3-pointers helped the visitors open up the margin.
Six Hilltoppers turned in a double-digit night with Chris Morrow posting a game-high 16 points, but the Lions defense kept West Liberty 20 points below their NCAA-leading average.
Saint Leo will take to the Bowman Center floor one final time before the Christmas break when they suit up and face Tuskegee University (Ala.) on Sunday afternoon. Tip-off between the Lions and Golden Tigers is set for 2 p.m. For the latest news, information, and updates on Lions Basketball and all other Saint Leo Athletics, visit SaintLeoLions.com.