SAINT LEO, Fla. – The Saint Leo men's basketball team fought off some serious adversity to rally in the final minutes and hand 18th-ranked USC-Aiken an 84-80 defeat as the Lions claimed a huge regional victory over the Top-25 Pacers on Saturday afternoon.
Despite holding as much as a 12 point second-half lead over the visitors from Aiken, S.C. the Lions (7-1) suddenly saw their advantage cut to just one with 3:57 left in the game. When Jesse Sielern stepped to the free throw line with two minutes remaining and sunk both attempts, Saint Leo was suddenly staring at its first deficit since the 16:40 mark of the second half.
With the visitors not capitalizing on a chance to extend the advantage, the Lions had an answer to the adversity as they would use the aggressive USC-Aiken (5-2) play, which already had Saint Leo in the double bonus, to retake the lead. After the 1:15 mark of the second half the Lions would visit the free throw line a total of 10 times, connecting on eight of those attempts to retake the lead and open up an advantage.
Playing solid, near foul-free defense in those final 75 seconds forced the Pacers into hurried shots as Aiken only make a single basket after Seilern's free throws. Finally, Spenser Mitchell stepped to the line with just 13 seconds left and hit both attempts to open it up to a two possession game. Jerrel Harris closed out scoring with two free throws with three seconds left to seal the big win.
Four Lions reached double figures in scoring as Saint Leo again showed a multi-faceted attack, with Harris leading the way behind a game-high 21 points, but it was the all-around effort from junior Ron Foxx that highlighted the day. Foxx came off the bench to score 14 points and pull down 11 rebounds as he registered the Lions' first double-double of 2013-14.
USC-Aiken saw three players register double-digit scoring with Seilern bucketing 16 points to pace the Pacers. He was followed by a 15-point afternoon from DeVontae Wright and 14 points from Ronald Zimmerman.
The Lions shot 23-of-50 (46 percent) from the field as they went 5-for-15 (33.3 percent) from behind the 3-point arc. They shot a season-best 84.6 percent (33-of-39) from the free throw line in a game that had 57 personal fouls between the two teams.
Aiken was 25-for-56 (44.6 percent) from the field and hit 10-of-19 (52.6 percent) of its 3-point attempts. The Pacers went 20-of-35 (57.1 percent) from the charity stripe.
The tightly contested game also saw 16 lead changes and 14 tie scores.
Saint Leo now turns its attention toward Elizabeth City State who visits the Bowman Center on Tuesday. The Lions will tip off with the Vikings at 7:30 p.m.
For the latest news, updates, and information on the Saint Leo men's basketball team, be sure to visit SaintLeoLions.com. Fans can also stay up-to-date on the latest Lions news by following Saint Leo Athletics on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube.