SAINT LEO, Fla. – After pushing the margin to 10 points with 7:40 left in the first half, the Saint Leo men’s basketball team would not score another point for nine minutes as the visiting Eckerd College Tritons stormed back to overtake the Lions and claim a 67-61 Sunshine State Conference victory at the Bowman Center on Wednesday evening.
Starting strong, Saint Leo (8-11, 2-4 SSC) caught the visitors on their heels as they hit nearly every shot they took with senior Jordan Prais scoring the Lions’ first seven points giving SLU a 7-3 lead just three minutes in. After Eckerd drew closer by hitting a pair of free-throws, the Lions extended the lead courtesy of back-to-back 3-pointers from Dominick Robinson and Josue Vazquez, whose trey would give the Green & Gold a 13-5 advantage.
After trading buckets for the next three minutes, the Lions would suddenly march out to a double-digit advantage after putting together a 12-4 run that took up nearly three minutes of the first half. A jumper by Prais with 7:40 left in the first half pushed Saint Leo to a 27-17 advantage.
Shockingly for the pro-Saint Leo crowd, that would be all the scoring they could cheer for in the first half as the Lions went completely cold. SLU would not score a single point for the rest of the period as they watched their lead evaporate as Eckerd (9-6, 3-3 SSC) closed the half on a 16-0 run to take a 33-27 lead into the lockers.
In fact, the scoreless streak for SLU would stretch into the second half as Eckerd hit the first two baskets, pushing the run to 21-0 before a pair of free-throws from Jordan Prais cut Eckerd’s lead to nine.
The first points from the floor would come in the form of a Josue Vazquez 3-pointer with 16:16 left to play. The trey stopped the drought at just over 10 and a half minutes.
Unfortunately for the Lions, the damage was done. Eckerd had managed a double-digit lead and, although SLU cut it to just two points with two minutes left, the Lions would never get the equalizer as the visiting Tritons hit nearly all of their free-throws down the stretch to seal the win.
As a team, the Lions shot just 32.8 percent (19-of-58) from the field compared to Eckerd’s 39 percent (22-of-56). Despite allowing just two 3-pointers from Eckerd throughout the game, the Lions biggest weakness again came from the free-throw line as they only hit 56.7 percent (17-of-30) of their shots, compared to the Tritons, who hit true on 21-of-26 (80.8 percent) of their chances.
Prais had another notable night for the Lions as he scored 22 points and pulled down a team-high eight boards, while Vazquez was the only other Lion in double-digits with 14 points in 35 minutes.
Zaronn Cann was the big impact player for the Tritons as he had 19 points in just 23 minutes, most coming from in the paint.
After having their three-game win-streak snapped by the Tritons, the Lions will look to rebound when they travel to Rollins College to take on the Tars on Saturday afternoon. The teams will tip off at 4:00 p.m. at the Warden Arena inside the Alfond Sports Center on the Rollins College campus.