Jerrel Harris drops 28 points and Ron Foxx adds 20 points in loss
KISSIMMEE, Fla. –Just one day after being named to the All-Sunshine State Conference first team, Jerrel Harris showed just why he earned the honor, and why he is one of the top scorers in the SSC. On Saturday, Harris scored a game-high 28 points and Ron Foxx added 20 points, but that wasn't enough as the University of Tampa handed the Lions a hard fought 60-59 loss in the SSC tournament semifinals at the Silver Spurs Arena.
Saint Leo is now 23-9 on the year and awaits where it will head and who it will face in next week's NCAA Tournament. The NCAA selection show will take place on Sunday night.
In addition to his 28 points – on 8-for-18 shooting from the field, 2-for-8 from three-point range and 10-for-13 from the free throw line – Harris added four rebounds and dished out two assists in the loss.
In the previous two meetings this year between the Lions and Spartans, the final outcomes were decided by a combined eight points, so tonight's contest was expected to be a battle.
After Tampa scored the first basket of the game, Saint Leo tallied the next seven, all scored by Harris, to take what would be its biggest lead of the contest, 7-2, with 17:40 left in the first half.
The Lions would hold the lead for the majority of the first half, but could never get the lead to more than four points the rest of the stanza, eventually taking a 29-26 lead into halftime.
Like the first half, neither team could pull away and separate themselves from the opposition on the scoreboard.
Harris would hit a jumper to tie the game at 35-all off an assist from Spenser Mitchell with 16:26 left in the game. Then Foxx would take a Harris assist and give the Lions the lead, 37-35, with 15:20 left in the contest, a lead that would eventually be the last for Saint Leo.
The Lions would tie the game two times the rest of the way, one at 40-all on a three-point play by Harris with 9:07 left in the game. Ryan Kidd, however, would give Tampa the lead for good, 42-40, on the next possession with 8:10 on the clock.
The Lions would not go quietly. After the Spartans pulled away for its biggest advantage of the game, eight points, Saint Leo would battle back and get the lead to two points, 59-57, after Tampa's Matt Thompson fouled Harris with 15 seconds left. Harris would go to the line and hit the two free throws.
Kidd then went to the line with 13 seconds left and hit the first of two free throws to make the score 60-57.
Harris and Ryan Wilson would get two good looks to tie the game in the last seven seconds for the Lions. Foxx's tip in of Wilson's miss would not be enough at the final buzzer.
For more on the Saint Leo University men's basketball team visit SaintLeoLions.com. Also be sure 'Like' the Lions on Facebook and 'Follow' the Lions on Twitter and Instagram.