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Men's Hoops Ground Eagles with Second-Half Rally

Men's Hoops Ground Eagles with Second-Half Rally

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - Clutch play down the stretch helped Florida Southern College men's basketball rallied back from an 11-point second-half deficit to pick up a thrilling 104-97 win over Embry-Riddle on Saturday at the ICI Center in the final game of the regular season. The Moccasins (19-9, 13-7 SSC) stretched their winning streak to seven-straight games and finished off the season sweep of the Eagles (11-17, 5-15).

Jonathan Lawton led the way with 34 points and came up with a huge steal late in the second half to help seal the win. The victory gives Florida Southern incredible momentum heading into next week's Sunshine State Conference Tournament. The Mocs will host a quarterfinal matchup at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Jenkins Field House is the site of both the SSC semifinals (March 3) and finals (March 4).

HOW IT HAPPENED
• Florida Southern got off to a slow start after falling behind on the Eagles' first possession. After a missed three-pointer from Trey Diggs, ERAU collected the rebound and hit a three on the other end to score the first points of the game. Embry-Riddle would build an eight-point lead (15-7) with 15:50 left in the first half, but the Mocs went on a 13-3 run to grab a 20-18 lead on Ben Marello's three with 12:19 on the clock and shift momentum back to the Moccasins.
• The Mocs led by as many as four points (30-26) in the first half, but Embry-Riddle closed the half on a 17-7 run to take a six-point lead into the locker room. The Eagles connected on 59.4 percent (19-of-32) of their first-half shots, including 5-of-10 from long range. 
• After ERAU started off hot in the second half and built an 11-point lead (53-42) with 17:20 to play and put the Moccasins' backs to the wall. However, Florida Southern would not go away easily and rallied back to take a 68-66 lead on Lawton's three with 8:41 on the clock.
• With just over five minutes to play and facing a seven-point deficit (83-76), the Moccasins came to life and reeled off an 18-6 run over the next three minutes to grab a 94-89 lead with just over two minutes remaining. The play that gave the Moc all the momentum came when Lawton swiped the ball at midcourt as the Eagles attempted to bring the ball up the floor, and found a wide-open Slinky Jones for a thunderous dunk. Jones was also fouled on the play and made the ensuing free throw to give FSC the five-point edge.
• It would be all Florida Southern from there as the Moccasins led by as many as 10 points (104-94) down the stretch. ERAU hit a meaningless three-pointer in the closing seconds to make the final 104-97, but the Mocs dominated the second half by scoring 67 points over the final 20 minutes.
• Lawton led all player with 34 points and dished out three assists. He went 9-of-14 from the floor, 6-of-9 from beyond the arc, and hit 10-of-12 free throws. Diggs tallied 22 points on 7-of-10 from the floor, including 6-of-9 from deep. Brett Hanson added 20 points and a team-best five assists. Jones scored seven points, grabbed five rebounds and recorded four blocks.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS
• Florida Southern improved to 6-4 all-time against Embry-Riddle, including a 3-2 mark when facing the Eagles on the road. Florida Southern shot 71.0 percent (22-of-31) in the second half, including 9-of-11 from three.
• Lawton went over 30 points for the fifth time this season, while Diggs eclipsed 20 for the fourth time. Hanson has scored at least 20 points in 16 different games this year, including four of the last five games for the Mocs.
• The Moccasins finished the regular season with winning records at home (13-3) and on the road (6-5). Florida Southern finished the regular season with 10 wins in its final 11 games.

UP NEXT
• Florida Southern will host a quarterfinal game in the Sunshine State Conference Tournament on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., and is the host for the SSC semifinals (March 3) and finals (March 4). The Mocc