LAKELAND, FL - Florida Southern College men's basketball overcame a double-digit deficit for the second-straight game to run its win streak to three with a thrilling 88-87 win over Midwestern State on Saturday at Jenkins Field House. The Moccasins (4-2) trailed by 10 points with 2:53 to play, but closed out the game on a 17-6 run to stun the Mustangs (2-5) and win in dramatic fashion for the second night in a row.
Jonathan Lawton scored eight of his 16 points in the final two minutes to help propel the Mocs to the victory and sealed the win by nailing a pair of free throws with five seconds left. Four different Moccasins scored in double figures in the victory.
HOW IT HAPPENED
• Florida Southern fell behind early after a long scoring drought to start the game. After trailing by just one (3-2) with 18:56 to go in the first half, the Mustangs would hold the Moccasins scoreless for the next three-plus minutes before Trey Diggs hit a three-pointer to snap the cold streak and make it 8-5. The Mocs would get within two points (15-13) when Jack Rauch hit a layup at the 12:29 mark, but Midwestern State would stay in front until Tyler Ross connected from long range to give FSC its first lead, 39-37, with just under three minutes left in the first half.
• The Moccasins led by as many as four (41-37) in the final two minutes of the opening period, but the Mustangs scored twice in the final minute to take a 44-42 lead into the locker room. Florida Southern shot 47.1 percent (16-of-34) in the first half, while Midwestern State connected on 51.6 percent (16-of-31) of its shots.
• In the second half, the teams would trade the lead several times until the final five minutes when the Mustangs began to pull away. Leading by just four (73-69) with 5:04 to play, Midwestern State went on an 8-2 run to take what seemed like an insurmountable lead (81-71) with 2:53 to go.
• For the second night in a row, Florida Southern refused to go away. The Mocs used s 10-0 run, capped off by a three from Lawton, to tie things at 81-81 with 1:45 left and bring the crowd to its feet. After Lawton missed a layup with 35 seconds left, Rauch grabbed the offensive board and hit a layup to put FSC up 86-84. The Mustangs responded by drilling a three-pointer with 21 seconds to go to get back in front by one (87-86).
• The Mocs would bring the ball up the floor, and with five seconds remaining Lawton drew a foul and hit both free throws to regain the lead (88-87). Midwestern State would get one final desperation shot that fell well short as Florida Southern pulled out another stunning win.
• Brett Hanson led all players with 25 points and collected seven rebounds, four steals, and four assists. Ross finished with 17 points and eight rebounds, while Rauch had 16 points, 11 boards, and six assists. Lawton tallied 16 points, six rebounds, and five assists, and was a perfect 7-of-7 at the charity stripe. The Mocs shot 89.5 percent (17-of-19) at the free-throw line while Midwestern State made just 16-of-26 free-throw attempts.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
• Florida Southern improved to 1-0 all-time against Midwestern State. The comeback marked the third time in the past two seasons that the Moccasins have overcome a double-digit deficit with less than 10 minutes to go in the second half.
• The Mocs finished with a 43-32 edge in rebounds and outscored the Mustang 25-9 in second-chance points and 22-11 in points off turnovers. Florida Southern forced 17 turnovers, nine of which came in the second half, including three in the final two minutes.
• Florida Southern heads to Sunshine State Conference rival Eckerd on Wednesday and will play on the road at Nova Southeastern on Dec. 2. The NSU game was originally scheduled to be played Jenkins Field House but has been moved to Fort Lauderdale to accommodate the NCAA South Region volleyball tournament, which will be hosted by Florida Southern. A game time for the contest at Nova Southeastern has not yet been announced.