LAKELAND, FL - Ben Marello scored a career-high 27 points and Florida Southern College men's basketball pulled away late for an 82-69 victory over Eckerd in Sunshine State Conference action on Wednesday at Streamline Sale Arena at Jenkins Field House. The No. 22 Moccasins (13-3, 6-2 SSC) used 13-0 run midway through the second half to top the Tritons (12-4, 5-3) for their fourth-straight win.
The Mocs got contributions up and down the lineup on Wednesday as Brett Hanson (17), Slinky Jones (13), and Jonathan Lawton (12) also scored in double figures. Florida Southern shot 54.3 percent (19-of-35) over the final 20 minutes of action to move into second place in the SSC standings.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- After trading jabs to open the game, Florida Southern was able to get in front by five (13-8) with 14:32 to go in the first and led by as many as nine (26-17) with just over six minutes to go. However, the Tritons were able to rally to pull within one (30-29) at the 1:53 mark. Southern was able to maintain its lead and went into the locker room with a 36-31 lead.
- The Moccasin defense was tremendous in the first half as it held Eckerd to just 30.8 percent (8-of-26) from the floor. Marello scored 13 points in the opening half and Kai Cleary added six off the bench.
- The Tritons would make things interesting in the opening moments of the second half. An 11-4 run to open the period allowed Eckerd to jump back in front by two (42-40) with 16:37 left to play. Florida Southern answered with a 10-0 run to take a 50-42 lead when Jones hit a three with just under 14 minutes to play. The Tritons rallied once more to pull within four (52-48) but the Moccasins snagged all the momentum by scoring the next 13 points to open up a 65-48 lead with 9:03 to play.
- Eckerd would make one final run to pull within six points (71-65) with just over three to play, but the Mocs slammed the door shut by scoring the next five points to go back up by double digits and cruised the rest of the way.
- Florida Southern shot a combined 47.8 percent (32-of-67) from the floor and outrebounded the Tritons 38-33 and outscored Eckerd 42-26 in the paint. Marello's 27 points came on an 11-of-18 performance from the floor. He also added six rebounds to his stat line. Hanson tallied seven rebounds and four steals to go along with his 17 points, while Jones came away with six rebounds, four steals, and a block. Jack Rauch led the Mocs with nine rebounds and dished out four assists.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
- Florida Southern improved to 71-40 all-time against Eckerd, including a 40-14 record when facing the Tritons at home. The victory marked the 250th of head coach Mike Donnelly's career. He is 250-203 in 16 seasons as a collegiate head coach, with 55 of those wins coming as the head coach of the Moccasins.
- Hanson continued his ascent up the all-time scoring list at Florida Southern by pushing his career total to 1,219. He ranks 17th in school history in scoring. Hanson needs just 198 more points to move into the top 10 and is on pace to score more than 1,800 points in his career. Only four other Moccasins have ever surpassed 1,800 career points.
- Lawton pushed his scoring total to 1,050 points in two seasons at Florida Southern to move into 34th in school history in scoring. He has 1,613 in his career after scoring 563 in two years at St. Thomas Aquinas and ranks 18th in career scoring among active NCAA Division II players.
- Florida Southern travels to Rollins on Saturday before returning home to face Saint Leo on Jan. 23. The Mocs finish off the month of January with a road contest at Tampa (Jan. 30).