WINTER PARK, FL - Florida Southern College men's basketball stormed out to a 24-point lead halftime lead but had to hang on late to hold off a pesky Rollins squad, 90-88, in Sunshine State Conference action on Wednesday at the Alfond Sports Center. The Moccasins (15-9, 9-7 SSC) shot a blistering 72.4 percent in the first half, including 13-of-18 from three-point range, but the Tars (14-10, 10-6 SSC) held the Mocs to just 37.0 percent from the floor over the final 20 minutes to take a three-point lead with just under three minutes to go.
However, Trey Diggs hit back-to-back three-pointers to put the Moccasins back in front, and Rollins missed two late free throws that would have tied the game as Florida Southern hung on for its third-straight win. Brett Hanson and Jonathan Lawton each scored 24 points, while Diggs tallied 21 as Florida Southern hit 19 three-pointers en route to the victory.
HOW IT HAPPENED
• Lawton set the tone early for the Mocs with a three-pointer on the opening possession to give FSC a 3-0 lead just 17 seconds into the contest. Rollins was able to keep things close throughout the first five minutes of action, but Florida Southern ripped off 16-2 run over the next four minutes of play to jump out to a 26-11 lead. The Moccasins would lead by double-digits for the remainder of the half and Lawton ended the first period of play the same way he started, with a three-pointer to make it 58-34 at halftime.
• Rollins slowly crept back into the mix in the second half by slicing Florida Southern's lead in half (61-50) thanks to a 16-3 run over the first four minutes of action. Florida Southern was able to push its lead to as many as 17 points midway through the half and led by a comfortable 14-point margin (78-64) with 7:04 to play. That's when the Tars caught fire and reeled off a 12-0 run over the next three minutes to cut the Mocs' lead to two (78-76) and took their first lead of the contest (82-79) on Eric Castaneda's three with 2:58 to go.
• Diggs responded with back-to-back three-pointers to put Florida Southern back up by three (85-82) and held a four-point lead (88-84) with 1:34 on the clock. Castaneda would convert a layup, draw a foul, and hit the ensuing free throw with 39 ticks left to cut the deficit to just one (88-87). Lawton drew a foul for the Mocs with five seconds left and hit a pair of free throws to open a three-point lead, but the Tars got one last chance when Castaneda was fouled on a desperation three with 0.5 seconds to go.
• With the chance to send things to overtime and snag victory from the jaws of defeat, Castaneda converted his first free-throw but missed the second. He intentionally missed the third free throw to give Rollins a chance for the game-tying tip-in, but a lane violation wiped out the free-throw attempt and gave possession back to the Mocs. Jack Rauch inbounded the ball the length of the floor to run out the clock as Florida Southern capped off another dramatic win.
• Hanson's 24 points came on a 9-of-13 showing from the floor. He also snagged eight rebounds and dished out five assists. Lawton finished with the exact same stat line (24p, 8r, 5a), but went 7-of-13 from the floor with all of his made buckets coming from beyond the arc. Diggs also hit seven three-pointers, while Ben Marello and Jack Rauch each tallied five assists. The Mocs shot 55.4 percent (31-of-56) from the floor, including 19-of-34 from long range, and converted 9-of-14 free throws. Rollins connected on 50.0 percent (31-of-62) of its shots, hitting 11-of-28 from beyond the arc and 15-of-21 from the charity stripe. Florida Southern finished with a 33-27 edge in free throws.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
• Florida Southern improved to 120-57 all-time against Rollins, including 47-32 when facing the Tars on the road. The Mocs have now defeated the top three teams in the Sunshine State Conference in back-to-back-to-back games to earn season splits against Barry, Eckerd, and Rollins.
• Lawton's 24-point performance marked the 16th time this season that he has scored 20 or more points. He has accomplished the feat in each of the last three games and seven of the last 10 overall. Hanson has scored at least 20 points in 13 different games this year, including seven of the last nine. Diggs hit six or more three-pointers for the fourth time this year.
• The Moccasins' 19 made three-pointers are the most since the team hit 23 in a 128-84 win over Miles on Dec. 20, 2015. Florida Southern's 24 assists marked the fifth time this year that the team has recorded at least 20 assists.
• The Mocs host Florida Tech on Saturday before heading to Lynn on Feb. 14. Florida Southern has its bye week on Feb. 17 and closes out the regular-season with a home game against Tampa (Feb. 21) and a road contest at Embry-Riddle (Jan. 24).