SAINT LEO, FL - Brett Hanson and Jonathan Lawton combined for 59 points, but Florida Southern College men's basketball came up short in an 85-78 defeat at Saint Leo on Wednesday at the Bowman Center. The Lions (13-14, 10-9 SSC) outscored the Moccasins (20-7, 13-6) 53-5 in bench points and knocked down 14 three-pointers to earn a split of the season series against Florida Southern.
The Mocs rallied from a 10-point deficit midway through the first half to tie thing at 38-38 before halftime but were unable to hang on to a nine-point lead in the second half as Saint Leo drilled a three-pointer with just over a minute left and hit key free throws down the stretch to seal the win. Southern closes out its regular-season slate at home on Saturday when it hosts Rollins at 7:30 p.m. on Senior Night.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Florida Southern got off to a fantastic start as it ran out to a 14-7 lead when Ben Marello connected from three-point range with 14:07 to go in the first half, but the Lions rallied to take a 15-14 lead on a three of their own less than two minutes later. With the scored tied at 15-15 with 11:19 to go, Saint Leo reeled off a 13-3 run over the next three minutes that gave it a 10-point lead (28-18) with 8:59 on the clock.
- Trailing 38-31 with less than four minutes to go, Southern clamped down on defense and did not allow Saint Leo to score again in the half as it tallied seven points in the last 1:30 of the half to tie things at 38-38 headed into the locker room. Lawton scored 18 of his game-high 30 points in the first half.
- The momentum carried over into the opening minutes of the second half as Florida Southern opened the half on an 8-0 run that saw its lead balloon to 46-38 with 18:34 left to play. Saint Leo finally scored with 17:28 to go in the second half to break a scoreless stretch of just over six minutes and make it 48-41. However, Florida Southern stayed in control and pushed its lead to as many as nine points (53-44) on Lawton's three with 13:43 on the clock.
- The Lions' comeback started with a three-pointer that ignited a 12-2 run that gave Saint Leo the lead (56-55) on Gintaras Bartsakas' three with 10:03 to go. Florida Southern was able to regain the lead when Hanson hit a layup at the 9:18 mark to make it 57-56 and the Mocs stayed in front for the next three minutes, but Saint Leo was able to stay within striking distance and regained the lead for good (66-65) with 5:08 to play.
- Florida Southern trailed by just one (77-76) with 1:25 to go, but Rusty Moorer hit a dagger from beyond the arc with 57 seconds to go to make it 80-76 and the Lions hit five free throws in the final minute to seal the win.
- Hanson, who played all 40 minutes, went 14-of-18 from the floor and grabbed a team-high nine rebounds to go along with four assists and four steals. However, Saint Leo had three players score in double figures off the bench and limited the Mocs to just 4-of-17 from long range.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
- Florida Southern fell to 90-22 all-time against Saint Leo, including 34-13 when facing the Lions on the road. The Moccasins have lost four straight and six of their last eight when facing Saint Leo at the Bowman Center.
- Lawton scored in double figures for the 48th-straight game dating back to last year. Lawton increased his FSC scoring total to 1,305 to move into 14th in school history in scoring. He has scored a total of 1,868 points in his collegiate career after tallying 563 points in two seasons at St. Thomas Aquinas. He is 17th in career scoring among active NCAA Division II players and is on pace to set the Florida Southern school record for career scoring average with his 22.9 ppg.
- Hanson continued his ascent up the all-time scoring list at Florida Southern by pushing his career total to 1,421. He ranks 10th in school history in scoring. Hanson is on pace to score more than 1,800 points in his career. Only four other Moccasins have ever surpassed 1,800 career points.
- Florida Southern closes out the regular season at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday against Rollins. The Mocs will host a first-round SSC Tournament game on March 6 with a time and opponent yet to be determined. The semifinals and finals of this year's conference tournament will take place at Rick Case Arena on the campus of Nova Southeastern on March 9 and 10.