SAINT LEO, Fla. – The 11th-ranked Saint Leo men's basketball team had their conference championship celebration muted a tiny bit on Wednesday night as the Eckerd College Tritons upset the Lions 69-68 in Sunshine State Conference action.
An extremely physical game throughout the entire 40 minutes saw Eckerd (18-6, 10-5 SSC) hold a distinct advantage in rebounding which allowed them to outscore the Lions 16-8 in second-chance points. Saint Leo (20-6, 12-4 SSC) outshot the visitors from St. Petersburg, Fla., but the most glaring stat came from the free throw line as Eckerd knocked down 12-of-15 chances (80%) while Saint Leo only went to the line a paltry five times, knocking down a lone shot (20%).
Despite the differences, Saint Leo made it interesting in the end as Jerrel Harris knocked down 3-pointers in three consecutive trips down the floor, including a long heave as time expired, but with Eckerd making their free-throw chances, that final shot could only cut the margin to its one point final.
Harris led the Lions in scoring as he set a new career mark with 27 points on 10-of-18 shooting, including seven 3-pointers, while Marcus Ruh added 18 points on a 7-for-13 night as he also pulled down a game-high seven boards.
Eckerd was led by Darrien Mack who had a near-perfect night going 9-for-12 with 26 points. He dropped in his lone triple attempt of the evening and was 7-of-8 from the charity stripe. Jerrick Stevenson dropped in 15 points and Woody Taylor added 12 points in the EC win.
The Lions will now prepare for the Sunshine State Conference Tournament as the final weekend of the regular season will serve as their bye week. Saint Leo has clinched at least a share of the SSC title and the top seed in the tournament, held at the Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, Fla. March 6-10. The Lions' first game will be on Friday, March 8 at 2:30 p.m. with an opponent to be determined on Saturday evening.