SAINT LEO, Fla. – A new dynamic duo has emerged for the Saint Leo men's basketball team.
En route to a thrilling 76-62 victory over Tuskegee on Wednesday night, the raucous Bowman Center crowd watched as senior Marcus Ruh and junior Jerrel Harris teamed up to score 48 of the Lions' 76 points as no. 14 Saint Leo outlasted the visiting Golden Tigers and pushed their unblemished season record to 2-0.
"Marcus and Jerrel were exceptional making decisions and we got a lot of defensive stops (in the second half)," Head Coach Lance Randall said of his team's performance. "I thought we struggled to find a rhythm (in the first half). In the second half we did a better job of finding some weaknesses and getting out in transition."
Leading by just three after the first 20 minutes, the Lions' perimeter game did not impact the game early on, but after the intermission Saint Leo suddenly held a hot hand when shooting from distance.
Making 50 percent of their three-point attempts in the second stanza, Ruh and Harris really busted the game open for the home faithful as they scored the first 19 points of the half. Their outburst featured four treys and ended with Saint Leo holding a 49-38 advantage when teammate Chim Kadima dropped in a free throw with 12:17 left to play. In all, the tandem scored every point from the field for Saint Leo in the second half; 44 points in total.
Their play earned them a share of the Hampton Inn & Suites Player of the Game honor as Harris finished with a game-high 25 and Ruh was on his heels with 23. Also in double figures, senior Shaun Adams was a rebound shy of a double-double with 10 points and nine boards.
For Tuskegee (0-1), who played in their first non-exhibition contest against the Lions, Calvin Thomas dropped in 20 points and Javier McKinney added 15.
For the game, Saint Leo shot 40.8 percent (20-for-49) from the field while hitting on 38.1 percent (8-of-21) of its shots from behind the arc. A foul-laden contest saw the Lions sink 28-of-37 free throws.
Tuskegee shot 31.7 percent (20-of-63) from the field, but was just 17.9 percent accurate from behind the 3-point line. The Golden Tigers connected on 17-of-24 free throws.
The Lions now prepare for their first travels of the young season when they travel to Milwaukee, Wis. to play in the Fresh Coast Classic. The post-Thanksgiving tournament will see the Lions face the previous year's champion in Lincoln University (Pa.) on Friday, November 23. All of the tournament's games will be played at Wisconsin Lutheran College in Milwaukee.
This postgame recap is brought to you by Papa Joe's Italian Restaurant in Brooksville, Fla.
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