Lions take #7 Florida Southern down to the wire

Lions take #7 Florida Southern down to the wire

SAINT LEO, Fla. – A 13-point night by senior Devin Crisosto and an almost-double double from junior Edmunds Dukulis were not enough to carry Saint Leo men's basketball past visiting Florida Southern, as the Lions fell to the seventh-ranked Mocs, 71-66, on Wednesday night at the Marion Bowman Activities Center.

Dukulis finished with 12 points and nine rebounds, while senior Ron Foxx contributed 12 points. Sophomore Marcus Dewberry dished out six assists for Saint Leo (9-5, 1-2 Sunshine State Conference).

Dylan Travis came off the bench to score 18 for Florida Southern (12-1, 1-1 Sunshine State Conference), with Stephen Battle and Michael Volovic finishing with 13 and 10 respectively. Kevin Capers, the SSC's 2014 Player of the Year and no. 15 scorer in all of Division II, was held to six points – 16 points below his season average.

In a game of strength-on-strength, with one of the nation's most prolific scoring teams in Florida Southern facing one of Division II's top defenses in Saint Leo, it would be easy to say the Lions won the statistical match-up of these two SSC heavyweights.

The Lions bested the Mocs in nearly every category on the boxscore: Saint Leo shot 51.2 percent (22-of-43) from the field to FSC's 38.7 percent (24-of-62), and the Green and Gold outrebounded the Mocs, 37 to 27. Florida Southern connected on three more free throws than Saint Leo, but the Lions had two more three-pointers than their opponents.

However Saint Leo finished the night with a season-high 30 turnovers, which led directly to 34 Florida Southern points.

"To have 30 turnovers and to still have it be a one possession game – that's a credit to our defense," said Saint Leo head coach Lance Randall.

The Lions trailed by one point, 65-64, with 1:37 remaining on the clock following a Cale Girten jumper. Battle put up a failed three-point attempt at the other end of the floor, while was rebounded by Dukulis to put Saint Leo in position to play for the lead.

Just as the Lions began moving the ball up the floor, a double-foul call on Crisosto and FSC's Bubby Johnson resulted in possession going back to Florida Southern. Capers converted the opportunity with a jumper, extending the Mocs' lead to 67-64 with under a minute to play.

Florida Southern proceeded to shoot 4-for-4 at the line the rest of the way to escape the Bowman Center with the win.

Saint Leo had been up 54-44 over Florida Southern at the 11:16 mark of the second half, following a pair of foul shots by Trey Griseck. The Mocs responded with a 14-0 run lasting three-and-a-half minutes, which resulted in a 58-54 FSC lead.

The Lions committed four turnovers during that stretch, which yielded eight Moc points – including a Tyler Logan three-pointer with 8:27 to play that gave Florida Southern a lead it would never relinquish.

Saint Leo led by as many as 12 in the first half and were still up by 11, 31-20, with 5:16 to play in the opening frame. However Florida Southern outscored Saint Leo, 16-1, over the remainder of the half, and the Mocs went into the locker room at the intermission with a 36-32 lead.

"You cannot be a team at this level that beats yourself," said Randall. "There's just too many good teams and good players that beat you, and we have to do a better job with our stuff – what we can control – and we didn't do a great job at that."

Saint Leo is on the road for its next two contests, starting with a game at Rollins College on Saturday, Jan. 10. Tip-off is scheduled for 4:00 p.m.