LAKELAND, FL – Kai Cleary scored a career-high 24 points and Florida Southern College men's basketball picked up its fifth-straight win by closing out its non-conference schedule with a 69-58 win over Bloomfield on Wednesday night at Streamline Sale Arena at Jenkins Field House.
The No. 10 Moccasins (9-1) led for well over 36 minutes of action to knock off the Bears (4-6) in the first-ever meeting between the schools. Cleary poured in 18 points in the first half alone to help the Mocs to a 41-32 halftime lead, and Southern rolled from there.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Bloomfield got on the board first with a put-back dunk on its opening possession, but the Mocs answered quickly when Slinky Jones connected from long range to put Southern on the board with 18:52 on the clock. The teams traded the leads twice over the next few minutes before Cleary's put-back dunk at the 16:40 mark to give the Mocs the lead for good (11-9).
- Florida Southern would extend its lead to nine points (28-19) when Cleary hit a layup with just over nine minutes to go in the first half. After a quick 5-0 run by the Bears cut the deficit to four (28-24), the Moccasins hit three unanswered layups to go up by double digits (34-24) with 5:56 on the clock. Southern would lead by as many as 12 points in the first half en route to a 41-32 halftime lead.
- The Mocs struggled offensively to find their rhythm in the second half, going just 1-of-8 in the first five minutes of the half as Bloomfield was able to slice the deficit to two (43-41) before Cleary nailed a three with 14:41 to go to put Southern back up by five (46-41) and break an FSC scoring drought of more than four minutes.
- Leading by six (51-45) with 11:04 to go, the Mocs clamped down on defense and held the Bears scoreless for four minutes during a 7-0 run that pushed their lead to 13 (58-45) with just 7:23 left to play. The run firmly swung momentum in Florida Southern's favor and helped the Mocs stave off a late rally by Bloomfield en route to their fifth win in a row.
- Cleary led all players with 24 points on a 9-of-15 night from the floor. The freshman connected on 3-of-9 three-point attempts and also grabbed six rebounds. Jonathan Lawton added 17 points, while Jones tallied a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
- Wednesday's meeting was the first-ever between the Moccasins and Bears but marked the 15th time that Florida Southern head coach Mike Donnelly has faced Bloomfield. He was 7-7 when facing the Bears as the head coach at Post University (2003-10).
- The victory on Wednesday pushed Donnelly closer to 250 wins in his coaching career. He is 246-201 in 16 seasons as a collegiate head coach, 51-49 in five years at Florida Southern.
- Brett Hanson pushed his career scoring total to 1,119 to move into 23rd all-time in career scoring at Southern. He is just 298 points from moving into the top 10 in program history.
- Lawton finished the night with 905 career points in his quest to become the 43rd player in school history with 1,000 points in a Moccasin uniform. He has 1,468 points in his career after scoring 563 in two seasons at St. Thomas Aquinas.
- Florida Southern is off for 11 days before returning to Sunshine State Conference action on Dec. 29 at No. 6 Nova Southeastern. The Mocs play at Florida Tech on Jan. 2 before returning home to face Lynn on Jan. 5.