LAKELAND, Fla. – In a midweek Sunshine State Conference contest that pitted Saint Leo against the eighth-ranked team in the nation, the Lions defeated the Florida Southern Moccasins by a 76-73 score. The overtime victory signaled the Mocs' third loss of the season, their first at the Jenkins Field House in Lakeland.
Despite Florida Southern leading the Sunshine State Conference offensively in team statistics such as scoring offense and scoring margin, the Lions hard-fought defense held the Mocs to just 73 points on the night, marking the only time Florida Southern has scored less than 75 points in a game this season.
When the whistle signaled to start the first half, the Lions immediately took control of the ball, scoring the first two points of the game on a made pair of free throws by senior Jerrel Harris. After four lead changes in the first half, Saint Leo strode into halftime with a 35-30 lead.
The Mocs, who are notorious for being a strong second-half team, came out strong in the second half, but it would not be enough to take home a win at the end of regulation.
With six lead changes coming in the second half, Florida Southern and Saint Leo finished the second half with a tie score of 64-64, forcing a five-minute overtime period to determine a winner.
As the clock ticked in overtime, it was sophomore Jaylon Bell who scored first for the Lions, giving them back a 66-64 lead. With the exception of two Saint Leo layups and two Florida Southern baskets, the rest of the contest would be decided by free throws.
With just 1:32 on the clock and the game tied yet again at 71-71, a layup from Ron Fox and three made free throws from senior Jerrel Harris would give the Lions' the offensive momentum needed to bring home the upset victory.
As a team, the Lions shot 23-53 (forty-four percent) from the field in the victory, in addition to going 25-36 (seventy percent) from the free throw line.
The Lions, who rank first in the conference for defensive rebounds and defensive rebound percentage, tallied 35 defensive rebounds in the victory. As a whole, the team earned 43 rebounds on the night.
The Lions' squad forced 13 Florida Southern turnovers, while collecting six team steals on the night. Offensively, Saint Leo tallied 11 assists.
Foxx also led the squad with 11 rebounds, nine of which were defensive. He was the only player in the game to earn double-digit rebounds, giving him the only double-double of the evening.
The Lions will return to action on Saturday, February 22 when they host the visiting Lynn Fighting Knights in yet another Sunshine State Conference battle. Tipoff for the contest is set for 4:00pm at the Marion Bowman Activities Center on the campus of Saint Leo University.
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