SAINT LEO, Fla. – The Saint Leo men's basketball team (1-0), backed by a 23-point effort from Jerrel Harris, defeated NCAA Division II newcomer Shorter University, 75-60, Friday evening from a packed Marion Bowman Activities Center.
Harris paced the Lions with a team-best 23 points, while Dominick Robinson added an additional 15 points. Trent Thomas bucketed two, three-pointers en route to chipping nine points. Robinson, in addition to Shaun Adams, registered a team-best five rebounds apiece. Meanwhile, Marcus Ruh posted a game-high six assists.
Gaining their first point thanks to a pre-game technical foul on Shorter, the Lions spent much of the first half in a back and forth tussle with the former NAIA powerhouse. Back-to-back three pointers by Thomas and Harris gave Saint Leo a 12-9 lead with 14:44 to play, but the aggressive shooting Hawks went on a 9-4 run to claim an 18-15 lead.
Down 27-22 with five minutes to play in the opening half, the Lions went on a 9-3 run to take a 31-30 advantage with just under two minutes remaining in the half. Still, Shorter took advantage of missed offensive Lions' opportunities to take a 33-32 lead going into the halftime break.
Shorter extended their advantage to four points, 41-37 with 17:16 remaining in regulation. However, out of a 30-second timeout, Saint Leo rallied-off 16 of the next 20 points, behind six different scorers, to open up a nine-point lead, 53-44.
The rally sparked the Lions to keep a double-digit running margin throughout the remaining 11 minutes. With Tom Neary and Shaun Adams controlling the interior, the sharp shooting duo of Harris and Robinson did not allow Shorter the opportunity to make a run.
As usual, the tough-nose Saint Leo defense only surrender 27 points in the second half, allowing just 11 over the final 10 minutes.
The Lions shot a terrific 46.6 percent (27-for-58) from the floor, while each team hit 10 three-pointers. The visiting Hawks also held a one rebound advantage, 34-33.
Saint Leo will continue home regular season action on Wednesday, November 14, when they host Tuskegee University in a regional showdown. Tip-off for that contest is set for 7:30 p.m.
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