SAINT LEO, Fla. – The Saint Leo men's basketball team kicked 2014 off on the right foot as the Lions outlasted the visiting Florida Tech Panthers 92-80 in Sunshine State Conference action from the Bowman Center on Saturday afternoon.
Playing in their first game of the New Year, the Lions (12-2, 1-1 SSC) saw senior Chim Kadima drop in a career-high 26 points as he led a Saint Leo team that shot a blistering 57 percent from the field despite playing in its first game after a 13-day layoff.
It seemed to click everywhere for the Lions as their offense stayed even with the visiting Panthers (11-2, 1-1 SSC) for the first half, and then the defense took over in the second period after some halftime adjustments by Head Coach Lance Randall. It was a return to conference basketball that saw Saint Leo connect on 39 percent of its three point attempts and a perfect and program-best 100 percent of its free throws (19-of-19).
Overcoming Florida Tech's size advantage, Saint Leo was able to get 38 points in the paint which forced the visitors from Melbourne, Fla. to defend down low, opening up the perimeter for the Lions' big shooters.
Kadima's new mark and game-high in points led a Lions' team that saw three others reach double-figures. Jerrel Harris scored 13 points on 4-of-9 shooting while Spenser Mitchell added 12, including a dominating dunk with under five minutes to play that seemingly locked momentum in the Lions' favor. Ron Foxx came off the bench to add 11 points in Saint Leo's first conference win of the 2013-14 season. Foxx nearly registered another double-double as he pulled down nine rebounds, one shy of the magical mark.
For the Panthers, who still managed to go 31-of-73 from the field in the loss, offensive production mostly went to Jermaine Jackson, whose 22 points were tops for FIT. Corbin Jackson added 12 points as the only two Florida Tech players in double figures.
Back in the SSC groove, the Lions now look toward a road matchup with their crosstown rivals, the University of Tampa Spartans in a midweek contest. Saint Leo will travel to the Martinez Center on Wednesday for a scheduled 7:30 p.m. tip-off.
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.