FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The Saint Leo men’s basketball team (5-8, 0-1 SSC) couldn’t overcome a 9-0 run by NSU (7-3, 1-0 SSC) to start the game as they fell 85-74 to the Sharks, Wednesday evening from the University Center.
Despite the loss, the Sharks could not stop the post play of senior forward Jordan Prais in the SSC-opening tilt. Prais had a career-night against the Sharks posting a career-best 35 points (14-for-20), grabbing 13 rebounds, while collecting his seventh double-double of the season and his sixth straight double-double. In addition to his career-night in points, Prais set the all-time free throw record at SLU as he went 5-for-6 from the line, notching the record on the first of two free throws attempts with 23 seconds remaining in the contest. He also added two assists, two blocks, and went 2-for-4 from the three-point-line.
Aside from Prais, Jeremy Jackson was the only other Lion to score in double-figures for SLU, as he notched 10 points (4-for-9) and gathered in five rebounds. Josue Vazquez chipped in eight points (3-for-4), while freshman Dominick Robinson added seven points.
In the first half, the Lions immediately faced a steep deficit as NSU opened up a 9-0 lead. However, Prais and the rest of the squad refused to lay down for the Sharks cutting the lead down to six, 16-10, midway through the first half. However, Prais’ six point run could not combat the offensive firepower of the Sharks as they stretched the lead back out to 12 with 8:40 left to play.
A three-point field goal increased the deficit to 16 with 3:41 left in the period and pushed their running margin of 11 into halftime.
Out of the break, SLU did their best to combat the lead as Jackson stroked a jumper to cut the lead to nine points, 50-41 with 17:55 left to play. However, the Lions’ offensive run never came as the Sharks’ pushed the lead to a game-high 17 points near the 10 minute mark.
The Saint Leo deficit remained in double-figures until the final two minutes of regulation when one final push led by Prais and Jackson cut the lead to seven with 39 seconds left. The pair combined to score the final seven points but solid Sharks’ free throw shooting iced the game, sending Saint Leo to their fourth-straight loss.
Overall, Saint Leo shot 44.3 percent (27-for-61) from the field and out-rebounded the Sharks, 44-33. The Lions also out-blocked NSU, 7-2, but could not match their effort from the free throw line (54.2%-to-70.4%). The Lions committed seven more turnovers than the Sharks
With the loss, the Lions say goodbye to the 2009 portion of their schedule and will open 2010 in exciting fashion as they welcome SSC counterpart Lynn University to the Bowman Center on Saturday, January 2nd. Tip-off for the SSC tilt is set for 4:00 p.m.