SAINT LEO, Fla. – The Saint Leo men's basketball team made quick memories of a nine-point halftime deficit as the Lions rolled to a 63-51 win over the visiting Barry Buccaneers in Sunshine State Conference action from the Marion Bowman Activities Center on Wednesday evening.
A lackluster first half for the Green and Gold saw a concerned coaching staff enter the locker room with Saint Leo trailing 34-25. It was an intermission that sparked the Lions to outscore Barry 38-17 in the final 20 minutes while shooting 56 percent and hitting five 3-pointers.
"I thought we came out in the first half and we looked a little tired and Barry shot (the ball) well. We did a poor job of letting them get in a rhythm," Head Coach Lance Randall said of the Lions' underwhelming opening-half performance. "In the second half we did two things; a much better job of protecting the basket, and we also ran our offense better with good ball movement, we screened better and we got good shots. When we didn't make shots we were on the offensive glass hard and that was a huge part of us getting some separation."
Barry (9-10, 4-4 SSC) undoubtedly held the hot hand in the first half as they rained in six triples and took an early 12-2 lead, an advantage they would nearly match at the halftime horn when Vladimir Raymonvil drained a trey just before time expired.
It was a different script after the break, but it would wait until Barry opened the advantage to 11 points with 14:35 to go before kicking in. At that point the Lions would roll off 17 straight points, taking a 50-44 lead, before Barry connected on a free throw almost six minutes after leading by double-digits.
It was all Saint Leo (9-9, 3-5 SSC) the rest of the way as the Lions opened up a 12 point margin when Trent Thomas hit a trey with four minutes left, and Marcus Ruh pushed it to 14 on a runner in the paint with only a few ticks remaining.
The final horn closed a 30-7 run for the Lions and handed Saint Leo their first win in four outings in convincing fashion. It was a mark achieved behind 15 points from Thomas, 12 points from newcomer Regis Schafer and 10 points each from Tom Neary and Dominick Robinson.
Scoring opportunities were abundant as the Lions pulled down 14 offensive boards and added that to 29 defensive rebounds.
For the game, the Lions shot 40 percent (23-of-57) from the field while connecting on 35 percent (8-of-23) of their shots from behind the big arc. Now a strength for the Lions after some early-season struggles, Saint Leo was 9-of-10 (90%) from the free throw stripe.
Barry was led by Evan White's 24 points as he was the only Buccaneer to register double-digit scoring on the evening.
The Lions will have the conference bye this weekend and move into the final month of the season where they will travel to Boca Raton and square off with Lynn University on Wednesday, February 1. Tip-off between the Lions and Fighting Knights is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the deHornle Center on the Lynn campus. For the latest news, information, and updates on Lions Basketball and all other Saint Leo Athletics, visit SaintLeoLions.com.