SAINT LEO, Fla. – Despite a pair of double-doubles by Dominique Daniels and Willonda Windham, Saint Leo (10-4, 3-2 SSC) could not stop the Mocs’ Michaela Hawley in the waning seconds of the game as she connected on a lay-up with no time on the clock. The shot sent Florida Southern (13-2, 4-1 SSC) home with a 78-76 win, Wednesday evening from the Bowman Center.
Windham poured in a game-high 20 points (7-for-13) and 13-rebounds for her fifth double-double of the season in the back and forth battle, while Daniels closed the contest with 18-points (7-for-14) and 10 boards in her sixth double-double effort. Brittany Carannante was red-hot from behind the three-point line going 4-for-8 and totaling 18-points. Senior guard Sierra Williams chipped in 11 points (5-for-9) and Gekeela Clemmons concluded play with six points and six rebounds.
Both teams came out charging the baskets, exchanging baskets for the first 10 minutes. During the stretch, the Lions, led by Daniels, scored eight of their first 15 points in the paint. Unfortunately, the outstanding perimeter shooting of Mocs’ guard Chelsea Johnson pushed the Mocs to a 22-17 lead with 8:55 to play. The tandem of Carannante and Daniels quickly put a stop to the mini Mocs’ run with a 6-0 burst of their own. Still, the Mocs continued to heave up three-point shots, grabbing an eight point advantage over the final six minutes of the half. Still, the Lions’ inside pair of Daniels and Windham cut the lead to 37-33 going into the half as a result of superb free-throw shooting.
Out of the break, the Lions struggled to find the basket as their deficit expanded to six with 17:30 left to play. The combo of Carannante and Windham took the offense into their own hands, cutting the Mocs’ lead to one, but FSC refused to let Saint Leo carry the momentum to a second half lead as they pushed the advantage back to four.
However, the Lions remained resilient as a Caranannate block transitioned Saint Leo into six straight points and a 58-54 lead with 9:33 to play. FSC withstood the Lions’ run and returned the favor with a 7-0 run of their own, regaining a 59-58 lead at the 7:33 mark. On the next possession, Carannante connected on one of her four three-point buckets to re-take the lead and start a string of five lead changes over the next three minutes of action.
With 2:30 remaining in regulation, the Lions and Mocs found themselves in a tied affair. Windham gave the Lions a two-point lead, but it was quickly matched by the Mocs. The squads exchanged the next eight points, resulting in a 76-76 game with five seconds remaining. After a charge call on Saint Leo, the Mocs drove the length of the court and sealed the deal with Hawley’s lay-up with no time remaining.
The Lions have now dropped two of their last three SSC games.
Despite punishing the Mocs on the boards, 49-34, nd connecting on 14-of-15 free throws, the Lions could not overcome 28 turnovers and 14 Florida Southern steals. The Mocs proceeded to score 32 points off of those turnovers, negating the Lions 44 points in the paint.
The Lions will take a break from conference action as they head to Valdosta State, Ga. to take on the Valdosta State Blazers on Saturday, January 16TH . Tip-off for the Gulf South, SSC showdown is set for 2:00 p.m. EST.