MIAMI SHORES, Fla. – Jerrel Harris and Spenser Mitchell both put together outstanding career performances as they helped to propel the Saint Leo men's basketball team to a thrilling come-from-behind 84-81 victory against the Barry Buccaneers in Sunshine State Conference action from south Florida on Saturday afternoon.
Harris shattered his previous career mark of 33 as he scored 41 points, most coming at critical moments in the contest, in helping the Lions (13-3, 2-2 SSC) erase a 16-point second half deficit. Mitchell, on the other hand, had a productive 13 points playing the physical role in the paint. Letting Harris have the spotlight, Mitchell was still 5-of-7 from the floor as he played the entire 40 minutes.
After a first half which saw the Lions respond from a 10-point deficit to take a slim lead, the Lions headed into the lockers down by just four at 40-36.
It was the second half which saw the majority of the magic, started by the Buccaneers who had the home crowd excited behind a 15-3 run to start the period. The gap widened to 16 points twice, and remained in double digits through the first 10 minutes of the second half.
The Lions would suddenly get the hot hand, going on a 28-17 run concluding in a Harris jumper with 37 seconds left which gave Saint Leo the lead for good. It was a span of time that included a 9-0 run to draw the game even.
As time wound down Saint Leo would establish as much as a five-point advantage on the host Bucs, but Barry would respond to retake the lead as the clock ticked under a minute. After a timeout, the Lions held a full possession, which saw the shot clock headed to zero. Harris took control and spotted up at the elbow, setting his new career mark when he drained the jumper from the elbow as the shot timer expired, giving the Lions a 75-74 lead.
With Saint Leo now holding the lead, and with an empty possession going the way of the Buccaneers, Barry was forced to send the Lions to the free throw line, where the Green and Gold converted all but one free throw attempt (9-of-10) in the final 31 seconds.
Rallying for the win, Harris's game-high 41 points came on an 11-of-19 effort from the field including a 5-for-8 day from the 3-point arc. He also went an eye-popping 14-of-14 from the free throw line. The Milwaukee, Wis. native punched in his 41 points in 33 minutes on the hardwood.
For the Buccaneers, four players reached double figures and three of the four each scored 16 points. Barry saw Yunio Barrueta, Deric Hill and Adrian Gonzalez register 16 points while Magne Fivelstad added 15 in the loss.
Saint Leo will look to use the momentum from this road victory to propel them into one of the toughest tests of the season. The Lions will welcome fourth-ranked and undefeated Florida Southern into the Bowman Center on Wednesday night. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. and the game is scheduled to be a White Out as all Saint Leo fans are encouraged to wear white.
For the latest news, updates, and information on the Saint Leo men's basketball team heading into its showdown with Florida Southern, 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.