Career night by Girten paces Lions past Panthers

Career night by Girten paces Lions past Panthers

SAINT LEO, Fla. – A Ron Foxx double-double, a career night by Cale Girten, and some clutch shooting down the stretch all combined to lift Saint Leo men's basketball to a 69-64 win over visiting Florida Tech, in a Sunshine State Conference matchup Saturday afternoon at the Marion Bowman Activities Center.

Foxx charted 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Lions (9-4, 1-1 Sunshine State Conference), with most of his points coming on a 9-of-11 effort at the free-throw line.

Girten scored a career-high 21 points to pace the Saint Leo offense, including four three-pointers – also a career-best mark for the senior forward.

Girten's biggest trey of the night might have been his final one – a three-pointer from the wing with 41 seconds remaining in the game that broke a 60-60 tie. After a missed Florida Tech three-pointer at the other end of the floor, Girten drained a pair of free throws with 25 seconds on the clock – completing a five-point swing in the Lions favor coming down the stretch.

"This guy (Girten) was a monster - hit big shots, had big stops," said Saint Leo head coach Lance Randall. "Most of what Cale Girten does for us does not show up on stat sheets – the 'next' passing, the screening, the defensive specialist – so many things on both sides of the ball. Tonight it was unbelievable - I mean, that's an MVP of the league-caliber performance."

After a Jordan Majors layup to pull Florida Tech (9-3, 0-2 Sunshine State Conference) back to within three with 15 seconds remaining, sophomore Marcus Dewberry all-but-iced the win with two more free throws for the Lions.

Foxx put the punctuation mark on the Saint Leo victory with a fast-break dunk in the waning seconds, responding to a layup by the Panthers' Chris Carter just seconds earlier.

Saint Leo shot 52.4 percent from the floor on just 42 field goal attempts – among the Lions' best shooting performances of the season on a night when the Green and Gold took among the fewest number of attempts in the 2014-15 season. The Lions, who entered today's game leading the SSC in free throw percentage, were 18-of-22 at the stripe versus the Panthers.

The Lions also outrebounded the Panthers, 32 to 27, the 11th time this season Saint Leo has outrebounded its opponent.

Defensively, Saint Leo held a Florida Tech that was shooting a league-best .514 field goal percentage coming into the game to a comparatively lackluster 39.0 percent (23-of-59) performance from the floor versus the Lions. Nine of the Panthers' field goals were three-pointers, and Florida Tech posted a 9-of-12 mark at the charity stripe.

Majors paced the Panthers with 19 points behind an 8-of-11 effort from the field. Corbin Jackson hauled down a game-high 15 rebounds, accounting for well over half of the Panthers' team total.

Edmunds Dukulis rounded out the list of Saint Leo starters in double digits with 10 points, while Trey Griseck came off the bench to score 11 for the Lions. Dewberry finished with four points, and dished out a team-high four assists.

Saint Leo continue Sunshine State Conference play at home on Wednesday, Jan. 7, when the Lions play host to No. 2 Florida Southern at the Bowman Activities Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., following the women's game between Saint Leo and Florida Southern.