FT. LAUDERDALE, FL - A hot-shooting opponent proved to be too much as Florida Southern College men's basketball saw its season come to an end in an 88-78 loss to Lynn in the semifinals of the NCAA South Regional on Sunday at Rick Case Arena. The No. 25 Moccasins (25-8) fell behind the Fighting Knights (25-6) by a 9-0 score at the onset and, despite rallying to take a three-point lead early in the second half, could not hang on as they fell in the regional semifinal round for the second year in a row.
Four different Mocs scored in double figures, led by Jonathan Lawton's 19 points, but Michael Baez poured in 35 for the Knights and Darius Moore had 23 off the bench for a Lynn squad that finished 9-of-12 from beyond the arc. Despite its loss in the semifinals, Florida Southern still posted for more wins than it did a year ago, won its 24th Sunshine State Conference Tournament title, and had the SSC's Player of the Year (Lawton).
HOW IT HAPPENED
- In a precursor of what was to come, Lynn raced out to a 9-0 lead before Brett Hanson finally put the Moccasins on the board with 16:41 to go in the first half. Southern was able to trim the deficit to four points (9-5) on Ben Marello's three on the Mocs' next possession, but the Fighting Knights were able to push their lead to 10 (17-7) with just under 14 minutes to go in the first.
- Lynn's lead would swell to as many as 12 points (25-13) with 9:47 on the clock, but Florida Southern was able to claw its way back and trailed by just four points (31-27) with a little over five minutes to play in the opening period. The Knights led by 10 (41-31) in the final three minutes, but Southern scored the final two baskets of the first half and trailed by just six (41-35) at the break.
- The Moccasins' momentum carried into the second half as they began the period on an 8-0 run (12-0 since the 1:35 mark of the first half) to take their first lead of the game (43-41) on a Jack Rauch jumper with 16:35 to play. Rauch would make it a three-point ballgame (46-43) just moments later, but the Knights scored eight-straight points to go back up by five (51-46) and never trailed again.
- After trailing by double digits (62-52) with less than 10 minutes to play, the Mocs were able to pull within five (63-58) on a Rauch tip-in with 7:47 on the clock, but ran out of steam down the stretch as Lynn pulled away for the eventual 10-point win.
- Florida Southern finished 30-of-68 (44.1 percent) from the floor, but made just 7-of-23 three-point attempts and was outrebounded 38-31. Lynn knocked down 52.5 percent of its shots, including a 9-of-12 mark from long range. Hanson (17), Slinky Jones (14), and Rauch (13) all finished in double digits, while Rauch also pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
- Florida Southern fell to 41-15 all-time against Lynn, including a 2-1 mark in the NCAA Tournament. The Moccasins are now 45-32 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, with an 11-3 mark in the semifinal round.
- Lawton scored in double figures for the 53rd game in a row and ends his career at Florida Southern with 1,428 points in just two seasons, good for 11th in school history. His career scoring average of 22.3 points per game (minimum two seasons) is the best in program history. His 719 total points this year are the third most in a single season in school history.
- Hanson ended the season with 1,543 career points, good for eighth all-time at Florida Southern.
- The Moccasins won 20 or more games for the 35th time in program history and won at least 25 for the 16th time in school history.