LAKELAND, FL - Jack Rauch's buzzer-beating three in overtime capped off an 18-point comeback as Florida Southern College men's basketball stunned No. 13 Le Moyne, 71-68, on Friday at Jenkins Field House on the first day of the Terrace Hotel Thanksgiving Classic.
The Moccasins (3-2) outscored the Dolphins (5-1) 39-22 in the second half and made key stops down the stretch in overtime to hand Le Moyne its first loss of the year. Florida Southern's victory is its second over a ranked opponent this year after topping then No. 25 Delta State in the second game of the season.
HOW IT HAPPENED
• Florida Southern was slow out of the gate, falling behind 8-0 and going without a point for the first seven minutes of the first half. Brett Hanson's layup with 12:58 on the clock got the Moccasins on the board and helped FSC pull back within four (10-6) just seconds later when Jonathan Lawton converted a layup at the 12:11 mark. However, a stifling defensive effort by the Dolphins kept the Mocs at bay as Le Moyne built a double-digit lead (20-10) with just under seven minutes to go in the opening period.
• The Moccasins shot just 25.8 percent (8-of-31) in the first 20 minutes of play including 0-of-9 from long range, and the Dolphins capitalized by connecting on 45.2 percent of their shots (14-of-31). Le Moyne was hot from beyond the arc in the first half, going 6-of-13 from long range, and took a 39-21 lead into the locker room at the half.
• In the second half, Florida Southern would turn up the defensive pressure and slowly began to chip away at the deficit. Behind by 17 (50-33) with less than 10 minutes to go, the Mocs went on a 9-0 run to cut Le Moyne's lead to single digits (50-42) on Lawton's three-pointer with 6:15 on the clock. The Dolphins scored four quick points to go back up by 12 (54-42) at the 4:54 mark of the second half and looked like they would cruise to victory.
• With the score standing at 56-44 in favor of Le Moyne, the Mocs would go on an 8-0 run that was fueled by three-pointers from Lawton and Josh "Rico" Releford to make it 56-52 with just over one minute to play. After Le Moyne went in front by six (58-52), Rauch would hit a shot from long range and Ben Marello converted a three-point play to tie the game at 58-58 with 15 seconds left. The Dolphins had a shot to win at the buzzer, but Oshea Gariey's layup missed and the contest went to overtime.
• The extra period went back and forth at the onset as the teams traded the lead several times. A three-pointer by Anthony Richards have Le Moyne a 63-61 lead with 2:30 to go, but Rauch responded for the Mocs to tie things at 63-63 on the next possession. Jones gave FSC a three-point edge (68-65) with a free throw with 21 ticks remaining, but the Dolphins connected from deep with six seconds remaining to tie.
• With 4.1 seconds to go, Lawton pushed the ball up the floor and drove to the right side before flipping the ball back to Rauch, whose high-arcing three-pointer fell through at the buzzer to give Florida Southern a dramatic come-from-behind win.
• Florida Southern finished the contest shooting 34.6 percent from the and made seven three-pointers in the second half and overtime. The Mocs held the Dolphins to just 7-of-17 from the floor in the second half and forced Le Moyne into 16 turnovers. Rauch and Lawton each scored 21 points, while Lawton tallied eight steals and Rauch grabbed 13 rebounds. Brett Hanson also recorded a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
• Florida Southern improved to 1-0 all-time against Le Moyne. Moccasin head coach Mike Donnelly moved to 10-2 in his career against the Dolphins. He went 9-2 against Le Moyne during his time as the head coach at Southern Connecticut State.
• Rauch's game-winner came with his father (Len), a former Le Moyne all-American, in attendance. Len played for the Dolphins under current Michigan head coach John Beilein, whose son Patrick is the current head coach at Le Moyne. Florida Southern assistant coach Nate Champion was a four-year starter for Le Moyne during his collegiate playing days.
• Saturday's victory over the Dolphins, who came into the game ranked No. 13 in the NABC Division II Coaches Poll, is the highest-ranked opponent that the Mocs have defeated since topping No. 3 Bellarmine in the NCAA Division II semifinals on March 26, 2015. The win also gives the Mocs a pair of victories over ranked opponents for the first time since 2014-15. The 18-point rally is Florida Southern's largest deficit overcome since also coming back from 18 down to defeat Palm Beach Atlantic, 124-95, on Dec. 3, 2016.
• Florida Southern turned the ball over a season-low nine times on Saturday, and only twice in the second half and overtime. The Mocs outscored the Dolphins 26-22 in the paint and Florida Southern's bench outscored the Le Moyne bench 31-16.
• Florida Southern wraps up the Terrace Hotel Thanksgiving Classic on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. against Midwestern State. The game will be preceded by Le Moyne and Saint Leo at 5:30 p.m. The Mocs are on the road at Eckerd on Nov. 29. FSC was scheduled to play Nova Southeastern at home on Dec. 2, but that game will be moved to NSU to accommodate the NCAA South Region volleyball tournament. A date and time for the rescheduled game have not yet been finalized.