SAINT LEO, Fla. – The Saint Leo men’s basketball team stopped their recent skid in a big way as they defeated Nova Southeastern 92-81 in Sunshine State Conference action from the Bowman Center on Saturday evening.
Saint Leo (9-13, 3-6 SSC) shot over 45 percent from the floor for the game, but found themselves down by nine points in the first half as NSU connected on back-to-back shots with six minutes to play. The lead would hover around the nine point margin for the next three minutes as both teams traded baskets.
The Lions’ defense would stiffen as Nova Southeastern (11-8, 4-5 SSC) would be held scoreless from the floor for the remainder of the half. While the defense was playing stellar, the SLU offense sparked to life as the Lions connected on two Saladeem Dewberry layups and two 3-pointers, the final being a Josue Vazquez shot at the halftime buzzer, as Saint Leo cut the lead to just one heading into the lockers.
Out of the intermission, the Lions first bucket, a layup by Jordan Prais, gave SLU the 41-40 advantage, albeit briefly. Nova Southeastern would respond to retake the lead and stretch it to as much as five points with 12:35 left. The Lions would respond to knot the score at the 10:43 mark, setting off a six minute span where the lead would switch hands eight times, with a Jeremy Jackson layup with 4:31 to go putting the score at 73-72 in Saint Leo’s favor.
After the Jackson bucket, Saint Leo would open an 8-0 run on the visitors from Ft. Lauderdale in the waning moments of the contest. It was a crucial run that solidified the game in favor of SLU as the defense again tightened up.
Forced to resort to putting the Lions at the foul line, the Sharks would watch as SLU drained 13 of their final 15 free throw shots to seal the win.
Vazquez led the Lions with a game-high 25 points in 35 minutes. He was one of five Saint Leo players in double-figures as Dewberry and Dominick Robinson added 13 points each and Prais along with Daniel Oliver dropped in 12 each. Freshman Matt Kendrick was one point shy of a double-double with 10 rebounds and nine points.
In falling for the second straight game, Nova Southeastern was led by Alex Gynes’ 20 points.
Saint Leo will hit the road again on Wednesday afternoon as they travel to Boca Raton, Fla. and face the Lynn University Fighting Knights. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the deHornle Center on the Lynn University campus.