LAKELAND, FL - Brett Hanson and Ben Marello each hit 20 points as Florida Southern College men's basketball took down No. 19 Southern New Hampshire, 74-71, on Saturday afternoon at Jenkins Field House. The Moccasins (8-5) came out on fire in the first half, but went cold over the final 20 minutes and were forced to hang on late as the Penmen (9-2) nearly overcame a 22-point second-half deficit.
Saturday's game marked the final non-conference matchup of the year for the Mocs, who head back into Sunshine State Conference play on Jan. 3 at Florida Tech before returning home on Jan. 6 to take on Lynn.
HOW IT HAPPENED
• After falling behind 4-0 in the opening moments of action, Florida Southern turned it on and mounted an 18-0 run to jump in front and seize control. The Mocs looked as if they might cruise to a win as they remained in control into the second half of play, holding a 47-25 advantage with 17:17 left to play.
• However, Southern New Hampshire clamped down on defense and found its rhythm on offense as it began to close the gap. Still trailing by double digits (59-48) with just over 10 minutes to play, the Penmen would go on a 14-4 run over the next six minutes to cut the deficit to just one point (63-62) with 4:08 to play. During the run, Florida Southern was held scoreless for nearly five minutes as Southern New Hampshire fought its way back into contention.
• A pair of free throws from Jonathan Lawton extended FSC's lead to 69-64 with 2:19 on the clock, but SNHU responded with a three-pointer on its next possession to cut the deficit to two (69-67) and would tie things at 71-71 with 33 seconds remaining.
• On Florida Southern's next possession Marello hit a layup in traffic to give the Mocs a 73-71 lead, and Hanson connected on a late free throw to seal the win as the Mocs escaped with their second win over a ranked team this season.
• Hanson scored a team-high 23 points while Marello finished with 20 and Lawton poured in 14. Hanson also snagged a team-high tying 12 rebounds, while Jack Rauch pulled down 12 boards and dished out five assists. Marello and Tyler Ross each finished with three blocks.
• Florida Southern shot 44.9 percent from the floor while holding the Penmen to just 37.1 percent. The Mocs finished with a 47-40 edge in rebounds and both teams committed 16 turnovers. SNHU hit 93.8 percent (15-of-16) of its free throws while the Moccasins connected on just 9-of-19.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
• Florida Southern improved to 3-0 all-time against Southern New Hampshire, including 2-0 at Jenkins Field House. The teams last met in the 2015 NCAA Division II Elite Eight, where the Mocs knocked off the Penmen en route to a national championship.
• The Mocs picked up their eighth win of the season in their 13th game. It took Florida Southern 20 games to reach eight wins last year. Hanson scored 20 or more points for the third-straight game and the fifth time this season. He also tallied his second-straight double-double and pushed his season total to four.
• Florida Southern head coach Mike Donnelly picked up his fourth career win against Southern New Hampshire. He defeated the Penmen three times as the head coach at Southern Connecticut State.
• FSC finished with a 44-34 edge in points in the paint and outscored the Penmen 21-16 in points off turnovers. The Moccasin bench finished with 25 points compared to just seven for SNHU.
• Florida Southern returns to Sunshine State Conference play at Florida Tech on Jan. 3 and returns home to take on Lynn on Jan. 6 at 7:30 p.m.