LAKELAND, FL - Jonathan Lawton's three-point bucket with three seconds left proved to be the difference as Florida Southern College men's basketball erased a 13-point second-half deficit in a heart-stopping 64-61 win over Cedarville on Tuesday night at Streamline Sale Arena at Jenkins Field House. The No. 10 Moccasins (8-1) stormed out of the gates to the tune of a 10-0 lead in the opening three minutes, but the Yellow Jackets (6-5) stunned the home crowd with a 25-5 run to take a lead that would last until the final three minutes of regulation.
In a wild final minute of action, Slinky Jones seemed to put the nail in the coffin on a fastbreak dunk to give the Mocs a 61-56 lead with 1:13 to go, but the Jackets drilled a game-tying three with 25 ticks to go to tie things at 61-61. Lawton, who scored a game-high 22 points, came away as the hero when he nailed the game-winner from well beyond the arc to lift Florida Southern to its fourth-straight victory.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- It looked as if Florida Southern would run away with the game as the Mocs got out to a 10-0 lead in the opening three minutes. Jones scored seven of the Moccasins' points in the game-opening 10-0 run. However, the Mocs went stone cold and scored just five points over the next 10 minutes as Cedarville took a 25-15 lead with 6:52 to go in the first half.
- The Moccasins spent the rest of the opening period playing catch-up and were able to mount a 9-0 run of their own to slice the deficit to one (25-24) on Brett Hanson's three with 2:05 to go in the first. The Yellow Jackets stole momentum back just before the half with a 6-0 run to make it 31-24 at the break.
- Florida Southern fell even further behind as Cedarville scored the first six points of the second half to take its largest lead of the contest (37-24) with 18:29 to play. The Mocs answered with a 7-0 run over the next two minutes to pull within six (37-31). The scoring run erased the Jacket's double-digit lead for good as Southern was able to stay within single digits until regaining the lead when Lawton hit a free throw with 2:11 on the clock to make it 57-56. It was the first time that the Mocs led since the 10:56 mark of the first half, more than 28 minutes of time.
- The Mocs looked as if they had put the game on ice when Jones stole the ball and ran the length of the floor before throwing down a thunderous two-handed jam to give Southern a five-point lead (61-56) with just over a minute to play. But Cedarville answered yet again with five-straight points, including a game-tying three from Grant Zawadzki with 25 ticks remaining.
- With the game on the line, Lawton rounded the corner opposite the Florida Southern bench and connected from 32 feet to give the Moccasins a 64-61 lead. The Yellow Jackets had one final chance to tie, but Zawadzki's desperation three was blocked at half court by Kai Cleary as the Moccasin bench mobbed Lawton in celebration.
- Lawton finished with 22 points on 8-of-15 from the floor, including 5-of-9 from deep. Hanson scored 21 points, 13 of which came in the second half, while Jones finished with 15. Both Hanson and Jones tallied 10 rebounds each. The big difference in the game came in points off turnovers, as the Moccasins outscored the Jackets 21-7.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
- Tuesday's meeting was the first-ever between Cedarville and Florida Southern. Both schools' women's teams also played on Tuesday, with the Moccasins coming out on top 73-42.
- Florida Southern head coach Mike Donnelly picked up his 50th win at the helm of the program and the 246th of his career. He is 50-49 in four seasons at Florida Southern and 246-201 overall in 16 seasons as a collegiate head coach.
- The double-doubles by Hanson and Jones marked the first time since Dec. 2, 2017, that two Moccasins recorded a double-double. That feat was also accomplished by Hanson (18p, 11 r) and Jones (16p, 11r) in a 105-102 overtime loss at Nova Southeastern.
- Hanson pushed his career scoring total to 1,110 points. He moved up four spots in the FSC record book and now ranks 24th in school history in career scoring. Just 307 points separate Hanson from the top 10 scorers in school history. Lawton pushed his scoring total to 888 in a Moccasin uniform as he continues his chase to become the 43rd player in school history with 1,000 points at Florida Southern. He has scored 1,451 points in his collegiate career after tallying 563 in two seasons at St. Thomas Aquinas.
- Florida Southern closes out its non-conference slate on Wednesday against Bloomfield (7 p.m.). The Mocs are then off for 11 days before returning to Sunshine State Conference action at Nova Southeastern (Dec. 29) and Florida Tech (Jan. 2). FSC is back home on Jan. 5 against Lynn.