CLEVELAND, MS - Jonathan Lawton poured in 21 points to help lead Florida Southern College men's basketball to a 75-67 upset of No. 25 Delta State on Saturday night at the GSC/SSC Challenge at Walter Sillers Coliseum. The Moccasins (1-1) trailed just three times during the game as they controlled the Statesmen (0-2) for the majority of the night.
The victory was Florida Southern's first over a ranked opponent since topping No. 24 Barry (74-72) on Nov. 18, 2015. The Mocs had three players score in double figures and shot 49.0 percent (25-of-51) from the floor. FSC returns to action on Wednesday when it opens Sunshine State Conference play at Saint Leo.
HOW IT HAPPENED
• Florida Southern set the tone early when Lawton got the Mocs on the board first to help FSC get out to an 8-5 lead in the first five minutes of action. Delta State was able to take the lead just moments later when PJ Davis connected from long range to make it 10-7. However, the Moccasins would answer back to take the lead (11-10) on Lawton's three-pointer with 12:34 to go in the opening half.
• The Statesmen would take the lead again when Matthew Wilson sunk a shot from beyond the arc to make it 13-11 with 11:18 to go. Again, the Mocs would respond with another three from Lawton to take a 14-13 lead at the 11:02 mark. Florida Southern would never relinquish the lead from there, building a double-digit lead (26-16) when Jack Rauch converted a layup and a free throw with 6:25 on the clock. The Mocs would take a 36-26 lead into the locker room at the half after connecting on 55.6 percent (15-of-27) of their first-half shots.
• Delta State was able to trim the deficit to just one point (47-46) midway through the second half and eventually regained the lead (49-48) for a brief moment before Tyler Ross connected on a layup to put the Moccasins up for good (50-49) with 8:23 to play.
• Leading by just six points (69-63) with less than a minute to go, Florida Southern sealed the victory by going 6-of-8 from the free throw line in the final minute of play. The Mocs finished the night 21-of-28 from the charity stripe, outscoring the Statesmen by seven points at the line.
• Lawton scored 21 points despite making just four field goals as he did most of his damage at the free-throw line (11-of-12). Rauch finished with 18 points and hit 8-of-9 free throws, while Ross scored 12 points and pulled down a team-high eight rebounds.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
• Florida Southern improved to 5-3 all-time against Delta State, snapping a two-game losing streak to the Statesmen. The Mocs also moved to 2-0 when facing the Statesmen in Cleveland.
• The Mocs forced 13 turnovers, which they turned into 15 points on the offensive end. Florida Southern outscored Delta State 30-26 in the paint despite being outrebounded 34-31 and held the Statesmen to 45.1 percent from the floor.
• 11 different players saw action for the Mocs and eight different players scored at least two points. Rauch dished out a team-best four assists while Brett Hanson finished with three and Ja'Kwan "Slinky" Jones had eight points and six rebounds.
• Florida Southern opens SSC play at Saint Leo on Wednesday evening before facing Palm Beach Atlantic on Saturday at 7 p.m. in the home opener.