MELBOURNE, FL - Jonathan Lawton and Brett Hanson combined for 44 points as Florida Southern College men's basketball overcame an early 11-point deficit to pick up an 89-75 win over Florida Tech on Wednesday at the Clemente Center. The Moccasins (9-5, 3-3 SSC) trailed 23-12 with just under 13 minutes to play in the first half but used a 10-0 run to get back in contention and size momentum to hand the Panthers (6-8, 1-5) their second-straight loss.
Hanson finished with a team-high 24 points and grabbed nine rebounds while Lawton scored 20 points and dished out five assists. Slinky Jones chipped in with 11 points, six rebounds and three blocks, while Trey Diggs added 13 points off the bench.
HOW IT HAPPENED
• Florida Southern struggled early on offense, scoring just 12 points over the first seven and a half minutes of play as Florida Tech raced out to a double-digit lead (23-12) with 12:36 to go in the first half. The Mocs were able to clamp down defensively and held the Panthers scoreless for almost three minutes during a 10-0 run that sliced the deficit to just one (23-22) at the 10:54 mark of the opening period.
• The Panthers were able to answer with a 10-4 run over the next two-plus minutes to jump back in front by seven (33-26), but the Moccasins scored the next nine points to take a 35-33 lead with 3:27 to go and never trailed again.
• FIT tied things at 35-35 with 2:47 left in the first half, but Hanson drilled a three-pointer at the 2:27 mark to spark a 7-0 run to end the half as the Mocs held the Panthers scoreless over the final minutes of the period to take a 42-35 lead into the locker room.
• In the second half, Florida Southern kept its foot on the gas and pushed its lead to double digits when Hanson connected from long range with 10:41 to play to make it 65-54 in favor of the Moccasins.
• After Ben Marello gave the Mocs their largest lead of the game (79-62) on a free throw with 4:24 on the clock, the Panthers would make one last run at the lead. A 9-0 run by Florida Tech over the next minute and a half cut FSC's lead to eight (79-71), but it was all the closer that FIT would get as the Mocs made 7-of-8 free-throw attempts in the final three minutes and Lawton drilled a three with 1:29 on the clock to make the final 89-75.
• Hanson's 24 points came on a 10-of-14 effort from the floor. He also added three assists and two blocks to his stat line and scored 20 or more points for the fourth-straight game and the sixth time this season. Lawton went 6-of-14 from the floor, including 4-of-9 from long range, and grabbed six rebounds on the night. He has scored at least 20 points in nine games this season. Diggs was a perfect 5-of-5 from the floor and hit all three of his attempts from beyond the arc.
• Florida Southern shot 49.2 percent (31-of-63) from the floor while holding Florida Tech to just 39.3 percent (24-of-61). The Mocs finished with a 41-36 advantage in rebounds and forced FIT into 20 turnovers, which turned into 26 points for FSC.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
• Florida Southern improved to 65-24 all-time against Florida Tech, including 25-13 when facing the Panthers in Melbourne. The Mocs have won three-straight in the series against the Panthers including seven of the last nine.
• The Moccasins outscored Florida Tech 38-33 in the paint and grabbed 10 offensive rebounds. The Mocs also scored 11 second-chance buckets compared to just two for the Panthers, and FSC's bench outscored the Florida Southern reserves 19-16.
• The Mocs picked up their ninth win of the season in their 14th game. It took last year's squad 22 games to get to nine wins. Florida Southern improved to 2-3 on the road this season, and returns home on Saturday where they are 7-1 this year.
• Florida Southern plays host to Lynn on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. before heading to Barry for a crucial Sunshine State Conference contest on Jan. 10. The Mocs play five of their next eight games at Jenkins Field House.