March 8, 2013

Top-Seeded Lions Advance to SSC Semifinals behind 68-55 Win over Tampa

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – The top-seeded Saint Leo men's basketball team managed to overcome 12 three-pointers by its opponents en route to a 68-55 victory over No. 9 seed Tampa in the quarterfinal round of the Sunshine State Conference Tournament held at the Silver Spurs Arena.

Despite a nine-day layoff after their last game, the Lions (21-6) looked eager to get back to action as Jerrel Harris got Saint Leo on the board, scoring the team's first eight points. After getting the lead with 16 minutes left, the Lions didn't look back as it was all Saint Leo as they opened up as much as a 14-point lead over their opponents from Tampa (17-14).  Saint Leo was able to prevent any Spartan rallies in the second half as momentum stayed on the side of the Green and Gold behind big triples and dominating dunks that sent the Lions' fans home happy.

In pushing the tournament's No. 1 seed to the quarterfinal round win, Harris, who was named the Conference's Newcomer of the Year earlier today, scored 21 points on 6-of-12 shooting where he also went 7-of-9 from the free throw line.  A lone point behind him was the SSC's Player of the Year as Marcus Ruh finished with 20 points and a game-high three steals.

Da'Markco Foster finished with a game-high 24 points on 8-of-16 shooting in Tampa's final game of 2013.  The Spartans connected on 12-of-27 three-point attempts, shooting 19 total shots from the field for the entire game.

The win secures Saint Leo a spot in the semifinal round where they will face Rollins College, who defeated Florida Tech 57-42 in the day's first game.  The Lions will look toward one of the toughest tasks in sports as they are asked to defeat an experienced Tars team for the third time this season.  Saint Leo swept the regular season series from Rollins, winning 79-54 at the Bowman Center in January and 76-60 in Winter Park in late February.

The Lions will square off with the Tars in the first men's semifinal on Saturday at 5:00 p.m. Ironically, the Saint Leo women's team will play in the final women's semifinal just before men at 2:30 p.m.  Both games will be played at the Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee.

For updated information on the Lions' opponents, and any news related to the nationally ranked men's basketball team, be sure to visit SaintLeoLions.com.