SAINT LEO, Fla. – Behind a career night from senior forward Jordan Prais, the Saint Leo men’s basketball team held off two furious rallies to defeat visiting Puerto Rico-Bayamon 89-80 in non-conference action from the Bowman Center on Monday evening.
Prais was seemingly unstoppable as he finished 12-for-16 from the floor and 10-of-13 from the free-throw line as he bested his previous career mark of 31 set on December 8, 2007.
The Lions had control, and a big lead, for the majority of the contest. Saint Leo led by double-digits for most of both halves, but the visiting Cowboys seemed to figure out the SLU defense as each period came to a close.
With 88 seconds left in the first half, the Lions were looking at a 19-point cushion and preparing to head into the locker room in total control of the game, but Bayamon would quickly change the flow of the contest. The Cowboys hit 5-of-6 shots, including two 3-pointers in the final minute, while completely shutting out the Lions and going on an 11-1 run to suddenly cut the SLU advantage to single-digits as Saint Leo took a 50-41 lead into halftime.
Although it took Saint Leo nearly 10 minutes of the second half to get the lead back to double-digits, the Lions would again push the margin to nearly 20 points in the final minutes of the game before the visitors from Bayamon, Puerto Rico again went off.
This time, the Lions led by 17 with 2:20 left to play as a Prais layup put them ahead 88-71. That layup would be the final bucket from the field for SLU as the Green & Gold would be outscored 9-1 to close out the game as Puerto Rico again sliced the lead in half before the final buzzer.
Besides the memorable 34-point night from Prais, the Lions saw impressive showings from Jamal Thompson, whose 16 points came on a 5-of-10 night from the field where he hit four treys in 21 minutes, and from senior Josue Vazquez, who dropped in 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting as he also pulled down seven rebounds.
Newcomer Dominick Robinson hit every shot he took as he scored 10 points in 16 minutes.
As a team, the Lions shot nearly 59 percent (31-of-53) from the field and were 6-of-13 (46.2 percent) from behind the arc. After struggling from the charity stripe in recent games, the Lions hit true on 21-of-32 free throws (65.6 percent) to help them in the win.
Javier Ayuso and Melvin Rivera were the top performers for the visiting Cowboys as Ayuso dropped in 23 points and Rivera bucketed 19 in the loss.
The Lions will have a week off before taking to the Bowman Center hardwood on December 1st to take on Trinity College. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.