WEST PALM BEACH, FL - Florida Southern College men's basketball saw its three-game win streak end in an 86-79 setback at Palm Beach Atlantic in Sunshine State Conference basketball action on Saturday at Rubin Arena. The Moccasins (12-9, 6-7 SSC) nearly rallied back from an eight-point deficit late in the second half, but the Sailfish (11-13, 5-8) were able to hang on for the win.
After Jack Rauch hit a layup to tie things at 79-79 with just over two minutes to go, PBA was able to hold the Mocs scoreless the rest of the way and closed things out on a 7-0 scoring run to snap a five-game losing streak. Brett Hanson led Florida Southern with 20 points, while Jonathan Lawton (17), Rauch (14) and Trey Diggs (12) all scored in double figures. The Sailfish benefited from a 31-9 advantage in free-throw attempts, outscoring the Mocs by 11 (18-7) at the charity stripe.
HOW IT HAPPENED
• Florida Southern got off to a good start by building an 8-4 lead in the first three minutes of action. However, Palm Beach Atlantic responded with four-straight to tie things up at the 16:12 mark, and the teams would trade the lead several times eight minutes. The Sailfish were able to create some breathing room by taking a 25-20 lead with 7:33 on the clock, but the Mocs battled back to tie pull within one (30-29) when Hanson hit a layup at the 3:28 mark.
• With the scored tied at 34-34 in the final minute of the opening period, PBA looked as if it might head into the locker room with a two-point lead after Bakari Warthen scored with 42 seconds left. Diggs would end that hope as he drilled a three-pointer just seven seconds later, and the Mocs took a 37-36 lead into the half.
• The Sailfish were the aggressors early in the second half and built an eight-point lead (74-66) with 5:32 to play. The Moccasins would not go away easily as Lawton hit a three to cut the deficit to five at the 5:22 mark and Rauch hit a layup just moments later to slice the deficit to three (74-71). Another layup by Rausch with 2:02 remaining pulled the Mocs even at 79-79, but Florida Southern was unable to find the basket the rest of the way as the Sailfish hung on for the win.
• Hanson's 20 points came on an 8-of-14 effort from the floor. He also went 4-of-7 from beyond the arc and dished out a team-best five assists. Lawton finished 5-of-10 from the floor, 3-of-6 from long range, and was 4-of-5 at the free-throw line while grabbing seven rebounds. Rauch was 6-for-12 with seven boards, and Diggs scored all of his points from the three-point line.
• The Moccasins shot 42.9 percent (30-of-70), including 12-of-31 from three, and hit 7-of-9 free throws. PBA connected on 50.0 (32-of-64) of its attempts and went 4-of-14 from long range and 18-of-31 at the charity stripe. The Sailfish finished with a 45-34 edge in rebounds and a 48-32 advantage in points in the paint.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
• Florida Southern fell to 26-5 all-time against Palm Beach Atlantic. All five of the Mocs' losses to the Sailfish have come at Rubin Arena, where Florida Southen is 9-5 all-time. Saturday's game marked the first time in the last 12 meetings that Florida Southern scored less than 80 points. It was also the first time in the last eight games this season that the Mocs did not score 80 or more.
• Lawton increased his career scoring total to 987 and needs just 13 more to hit 1,000 career points. He has scored 424 points for the Moccasins this year after combining for 563 in his first two collegiate seasons at St. Thomas Aquinas. Hanson scored 20 or more points for the fifth-straight game.
• The Mocs were outscored 48-32 in the paint but came up with a 14-12 edge in second-chance points. Palm Beach Atlantic's bench scored 37 points while the Mocs got just 16 from their reserves.
• Florida Southern returns home for two games against Eckerd (Jan. 31) and Barry (Feb. 3) before hitting the road to face longtime rival Rollins on Feb. 7.