Defense and clutch effort at the line lifts Lions past Eckerd, 69-64

Defense and clutch effort at the line lifts Lions past Eckerd, 69-64

SAINT LEO, Fla. – Saint Leo men's basketball began the week as Division II's top team at the free-throw line.

The Lions needed that prowess at the charity stripe in Wednesday night's Sunshine State Conference matchup against Eckerd College, which ended in a 69-64 win over the Tritons at the Marion Bowman Activities Center.

Saint Leo (11-7, 3-4 SSC) matched up with Eckerd (9-7, 3-4 SSC) in all shooting categories save free throws, where the Lions went 21-of-28 – making five more than the Tritons on an identical number of attempts, in what proved to be the difference in the game.

The Lions' share of those – no pun intended – were in the second half, when Saint Leo was 18-of-24 at the stripe.

Defensively, the Lions held the Tritons to a 38.5 percent effort in the second half, after Eckerd was hitting at a 47.8 clip in the opening frame.

Breaking a 28-28 halftime tie, Saint Leo opened the second half with a 15-2 run that lasted nearly three-and-a-half minutes. Senior Ron Foxx accounted for seven of his 16 points during the surge, which ended with a Foxx three-pointer at the 16:40 mark of the half.

Another Foxx trey two minutes later pushed the Saint Leo to 14 points, 48-34. At the other end of the court, Eckerd was held scoreless for long stretches of playing time. The Tritons were just 6-of-21 (.286) from the floor after the second half clock passed under the 12:00 mark.

In addition to Foxx's 16-point night, senior Devin Crisosto also tallied 16 points while dishing out three assists. Senior Cale Girten charted 11 points with five rebounds, as did sophomore guard Marcus Dewberry who recorded his 11 and six off the bench.

Junior Edmunds Dukulis finished with a team-high six rebounds to go with his seven points.

Kevin Walsh tallied 16 points in the losing effort for Eckerd, while Malcolm Brunner, Jr., finished with 14 points and seven rebounds. Jerrick Stevenson chipped in with 11 points.

Eckerd out-hustled Saint Leo on the boards, 31 to 26, marking just the fourth time this season the Lions have been outrebounded. 13 of the Triton rebounds came on the offensive glass, which Eckerd converted to 16 second-chance points.

Saint Leo will step out of the SSC loop for the final time this season when it returns to the hardwood on Saturday afternoon, taking on Palm Beach Atlantic at 4:00 p.m. at the Marion Bowman Activities Center.

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