MAYAGUEZ, Puerto Rico – The Saint Leo University men's basketball team continued its success as the 2013 Mayaguez Basketball Classic, defeating University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras by a final score of 70-59 on Sunday afternoon at the Coliseo Rafael A. Mangual on the campus of UPR Mayaguez.
The Lions move to 3-0 on the season, while UPR Rio Piedras drops to a mark of 0-4.
Leading the way on the afternoon was senior Jerrel Harris, who tallied a game best 27 points, and added five rebounds, two assists, and two steals. Spenser Mitchell registered double digit scoring efforts, posting 11 points and chipping in four boards and two assists.
Defensively the Lions were consistent across the board, pulling in a total of 38 rebounds, 33 of which were defensive boards. Trey Griseck, Ryan Wilson, and Harris each pulled in a team best five, while Cale Girten, Chim Kadima, Devin Crisosto, Ron Foxx, and Mitchell each grabbed four. Griseck and Harris earned a team best two steals apiece.
UPR Rio Piedras was led by Bryan Martinez, who notched 17 points on the afternoon. Hector Maldonado registered 16 points, while Enrique Trenche pulled in a team best five rebounds. Esteban Cordero proved to have sticky fingers, earning a game high three steals.
Saint Leo found themselves battling a scrappy team from the beginning in a game that saw the score tied seven times with a total of nine lead changes. Rio Piedras put the first points on the scoreboard thanks to a lone free throw by Cordero.
The Lions bounced right back thanks to a shot from long range by Harris off of a Mitchell assist to put the Green and Gold in a 3-1 lead. Molonado answered back with a trey of his own, but a jumper by Harris put the Lions in the lead once again.
Rio Piedras turned up the defensive heat, putting pressure on Saint Leo on all ends of the court. By the end of the first half, the Lions held onto a 37-29 advantage, but not before the teams saw the score change hands four times, and tied three more.
The second stanza proved to be just as much of a battle as the first, with Saint Leo holding onto the advantage for the first five minutes before a three-point shot from Bryan Martinez put Rio Piedras in a slim one point advantage, 43-42. Ron Foxx converted one-of-two free throw attempts to knot the score at 43-43 with 14:28 on the clock, and over the ensuing six minutes, Rio Piedras held the advantage, holding onto a 50-48 lead with 8:49 to go.
A good layup by Foxx evened the score at 50-50 soon after, but Rio Piedras pulled back into the lead, jumping out by as much as five over the next four minutes. A shot from beyond the arc by Harris gave the Lions the lead once more, with the scoreboard showing a score of 57-55, with 3:58 to go. The bucket from long range swung the momentum in the Lions' favor, allowing them to close out the game with an ever growing lead, to finish with an 11 point cushion despite Rio Piedras' best defensive efforts.
The Lions shot 57 percent on the day, and were successful on 46 percent of their shots from long range. From the line, Saint Leo sank 82 percent of their throws from the charity stripe.
The Lions return to action on in their final game of the 2013 Mayaguez Classic on Tuesday, November 12, when they take on UPR Mayaguez. Game time is set for 1 p.m., Eastern Time. Fans can catch all of the action live by visiting SaintLeoLions.com and clicking on the live coverage links provided in the schedule.
For the latest news, updates, and information on the Saint Leo men's basketball team, fans can visit SaintLeoLions.com. Fans can also stay up-to-date on the latest Lions news by following Saint Leo Athletics on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube.