ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Saint Leo men's basketball team came up just short on the road as Eckerd College bested the Lions with a 56-55 decision in Sunshine State Conference action at the McArthur Center on Wednesday night.
Baskets came at a premium in the early going as both teams bruised their way to multiple charging calls and struggled to find an offensive rhythm. A three pointer by Eckerd's Woody Taylor tied the game at 11 with 7:54 left in the first half.
The Lions tied the game for the fourth time with 3:48 before the break, but Wayne Sears Jr.'s high-arcing three to beat the horn gave EC the momentum with a 27-21 lead at halftime.
The six-point halftime edge disappeared following a 6-0 run by Saint Leo (8-8, 2-4 SSC) to begin the second half. The Tritons answered with a 7-0 run of their own, but the Lions lingered in striking distance, trailing by single digits until late.
Trent Thomas completed the Lions rally by draining a three from the right wing, but a turnover on the Lions' next possession allowed for an Eckerd (11-4, 4-2 SSC) layup.
After a Triton trey put Eckerd ahead again by two, Thomas drilled another long shot under duress with 1:25 remaining.
Eckerd countered just 21 seconds later with Lance Kearse fighting his way through traffic to muscle up a layup plus the foul.
Saint Leo's Shaun Adams was fouled with 41 ticks on the clock and went to the charity stripe with a chance to tie. He missed the back end of his two tries and the Tritons exhausted precious time on the game clock as Saint Leo refused to foul.
The Lions' defense forced Eckerd into a tough look with the shot clock expiring and Marcus Ruh raced up the sideline with time to spare. The desperation heave from Ruh was well short as he fired off balance from the right wing as the clock hit all zeros.
Saint Leo was led by Thomas, who dropped in 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting, as he added three 3-pointers. Adams and Ruh joined the group of Saint Leo double-digit performers as both scored 10 points.
Keep up with their road travels, the Lions will head to South Florida and square off with the Nova Southeastern Sharks on Saturday afternoon. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m. at the Don Taft Arena at the University Center in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. For the latest news, information, and updates on Lions Basketball and all other Saint Leo Athletics, visit SaintLeoLions.com.