SAINT LEO, FL - Florida Southern College men's basketball nearly overcame a 13-point second-half deficit but was unable to sink the winning bucket in the final seconds of a 69-68 loss to Saint Leo on Wednesday at the Marion Bowman Activities Center. The Moccasins (1-2, 0-1 SSC) collected a rebound when the Lions (3-3, 1-0 SSC) missed a free throw with 11 seconds to play, but a last-second shot came up just short as Florida Southern dropped its first Sunshine State Conference game of the year.
The Mocs open their home schedule on Saturday when they host Palm Beach Atlantic at 7:30 p.m. at Jenkins Field House.
HOW IT HAPPENED
• After scoring the first points of the game, Florida Southern quickly found itself behind 9-2 in the first three and a half minutes of action. Trailing 16-8 with 12:40 to go in the first half, Jonathan Lawton would hit a three-pointer that ignited a 9-1 run to pull the Mocs even at 17-17 with 9:45 on the clock.
• The Moccasins led briefly when Jack Rauch connected on a layup to make it 21-20 with nine minutes to play, but the Lions answered with a 5-0 run to regain the lead. Despite tying things up at 28-28 later in the half, the Mocs were unable to regain the lead and trailed 40-33 at the break. Florida Southern was plagued by cold shooting in the first 20 minutes, connecting on just 13-of-35 field-goal attempts and 4-of-11 free-throw opportunities in the first half.
• Despite FSC's early struggles on offense, the Moccasins were able to find their groove in the second half, connecting on 42.4 percent (14-of-33) from the floor while limiting Saint Leo to just 37.5 percent (12-of-32).
• The Lions were able to pull in front by 10 (43-33) early in the second half and led by as many as 13 points (48-35) with just over 16 minutes to play. Florida Southern was able to claw its way back by holding the Lions without a point for more than six minutes during a 10-0 run that turned a 52-41 deficit into a manageable one-point game (52-51).
• Saint Leo jumped back in front by seven (64-57) in the final five minutes, but the Mocs rallied once more and pulled within a single point (69-68) when Tyler Ross hit a layup with 44 seconds to go. After an FSC turnover and a defensive foul, the Lions had a chance to add to their lead, but Isaiah Hill missed the front end of a one-and-one in the closing seconds. The Mocs were able to get the ball up the floor and into the hands of Brett Hanson, but his last-second three-pointer missed the mark at the buzzer.
• Florida Southern shot 39.7 percent from the floor, while the Lions connected on 42.9 percent of their shots. Saint Leo finished with a slim edge in rebounds (44-42) but committed 17 turnovers to just 12 for the Mocs. The biggest difference came at the charity stripe, where the Lions hit 15-of-26 attempts while the Moccasins connected on just 9-of-19.
• Hanson led the Mocs with 20 points and tied two other players with a game-high seven rebounds. He also dished out four assists. Lawton finished the night with 15 points and Jack Rauch added 11. Saint Leo was led in scoring by Junior Searcy (20), while Hill (12) and Tyreece Brice (11) also scored in double figures.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
• Florida Southern fell to 88-21 all-time against Saint Leo, including 34-12 when facing the Lions on the road. The Moccasins also dropped to 29-14 all-time in Sunshine State Conference openers. Saint Leo has now topped the Mocs in each of the last two meetings.
• Despite dropping two of their first three games, Florida Southern is holding opponents to just 68.0 points per game compared to 78.0 points per game through the first three games of last season.
• Lawton and Rauch have scored in double figures in each of the first three games of the season. The duo has combined to score 100 of Florida Southern's 221 points through the first three games (45.2 percent).
• Florida Southern opens its home slate against Palm Beach Atlantic at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday before hosting the Terrace Hotel Thanksgiving Classic next week. The Mocs will take on Le Moyne (Nov. 24) and Midwestern State (Nov. 25) while also hosting games between Saint Leo/Midwestern State (Nov. 24) and Saint Leo/Le Moyne (Nov. 25)