FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. – In a grueling Saturday evening Sunshine State Conference contest, the Saint Leo men's basketball team (15-4, 7-2 SSC) defeated the Nova Southeastern Sharks (11-5, 4-5 SSC) in nail-biting fashion by a score of 68-65. The win marked Saint Leo's seventh conference win of the season.
The first half of the game featured a Saint Leo team that looked very different than usual. As the Lions struggled to gain an edge over their opponent without senior leader Marcus Ruh, who did not travel due to illness, the Sharks came up big as they dominated both offensive and defensive statistics.
After halftime, however, the Lions looked their normal selves as they stepped onto the court with dedication written on their faces. Although the Sharks led by 10 at one point during the first half, Saint Leo's offense and sturdy defense allowed the Lions to narrow the deficit on multiple occasions during the second half.
Through pure determination and perseverance, the Lions were able to tie the game four times and eventually claim the long-awaited lead. With just 2:43 left on the clock, Lions senior Shaun Adams was fouled right under the basket on a fast break, and his made free throws put the Lions ahead by two, making the score 59-57. After two more minutes of hard basketball, the Sharks whittled the Lions' lead back down to just one point, but yet again, Shark fouls sealed the deal as junior Jerrel Harris sank a pair of free throws to put the Lions ahead by three. Moments later, a Lion foul and a free throw made by the Sharks' Iran Harris cut the Lions' lead to two, but as junior Chim Kadima gracefully sank a free throw with four seconds left in the game, the Lions claimed their victory.
On the offensive side for the Lions, junior Jerrel Harris led the team in scoring as he collected an astounding 25 points on the evening. Seniors Trent Thomas and Shaun Adams trailed just behind Harris with 17 and 13 points, respectively. As a team, the Lions also shot 68.8 percent from the free throw line and 46.2 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.
For the Lions' defense, Shaun Adams led the charge with seven rebounds and four steals. Altogether, the Lions collected 30 rebounds for the game, in addition to 10 steals and three blocks.
The Lions return to action on Wednesday, Feb. 6, when they travel to Lynn University to take on the Fighting Knights. Tipoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.