TAMPA, Fla. – The University of Tampa Spartans erased a 12 point second half deficit as they rallied to down Saint Leo 59-57 in Sunshine State Conference action on Wednesday night.
First half action saw both teams begin play with a defensive battle with just 13 combined points scored after the first seven minutes of play. Despite the slow start, Saint Leo (12-3, 1-2 SSC) was able to establish an early lead and hold it through the entire opening half.
The early portions of the second half saw much of the same as it seemed the Lions had an answer to the Spartan (9-3, 2-1 SSC) defense, opening up as much as a 12 point advantage over their hosts with 10 minutes left to play. After that point, Saint Leo would be stuck on the 47 point mark for over five minutes while Tampa whittled down the lead, ultimately tying the score with 4:45 to play.
Momentum had swung over to Tampa and the Spartans were able to close out the rally by responding one more time, answering a two-point Lions' lead to steal away the advantage and the victory in the final seconds. Saint Leo, looking to send the game into overtime, saw its final shot get blocked and saw the clock expire on just the second SSC loss of the season.
Despite the setback, the Lions had three players in double figures behind Jerrel Harris's game-high 19 points. Chim Kadima finished the game with 13 and Ron Foxx again came off the bench to drop in 10 points in the loss.
Tampa's Eric Moraes and Jordan Davis finished with a team-leading 12 points as both played nearly every minute.
The Lions will look to rebound on Saturday when they travel to Miami Shores, Fla. and face the Barry Buccaneers. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the Health and Sports Center on the Barry Campus.
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