LAKELAND, Fla. – The amazing run that the Saint Leo men's basketball team took their fans on during the 2012-13 season came to an end on Sunday night after the Lions dropped an 84-65 decision to host Florida Southern College in the NCAA South Region Semifinals.
The much anticipated matchup between the co-champions of the Sunshine State Conference started off as a back-and-forth battle through the first eight minutes. During that opening span, the No. 4 seed Lions stayed even with the top seed Mocs behind 11 points and three triples from senior Marcus Ruh that gave Saint Leo an 18-17 advantage.
It was at that point where turnovers began to play a factor as four consecutive Saint Leo possessions ended with turnovers and allowed Florida Southern (26-5) to open up a double-digit advantage. It was this three-minute stretch that proved to be the difference-maker in the contest.
Using the momentum gained from a crowd 2,114 mostly pro-FSC fans, the hosts were able to take a 48-34 lead into the halftime break.
Looking for a big run in the second half, the Lions (22-8) just could not get momentum on their side as the Moccasins kept a comfortable lead throughout the final 20 minutes.
Although in a losing effort, the Lions were led by Marcus Ruh's 27 points as he tied a career-high in his final game in the Green and Gold. Jerrel Harris also reached the 20-point mark with 21.
Florida Southern, ranked eighth in the nation, advances to the South Region Championship where they will face No. 9 Alabama-Huntsville on Tuesday night.
The Lions, ranked No. 17 in the nation conclude their season 22-8 and are the Sunshine State Conference Regular Season Champions. The Lions will say farewell to the core group that put Saint Leo on the men's basketball map as Ruh, Shaun Adams, Tom Neary and Trent Thomas have concluded their playing careers in the Green and Gold.