Lions knock off #12 Ala.-Huntsville in OT thriller

Lions knock off #12 Ala.-Huntsville in OT thriller

SAINT LEO, Fla. – Clutch free-throw shooting in overtime by sophomore forward Caleb Stewart fueled Saint Leo men's basketball to a 93-90 win over No. 12 Alabama-Huntsville, Saturday night at the Marion Bowman Activities Center.

The win was the Lions' first win over a ranked opponent since February 19, 2014, when Saint Leo (2-0) dispatched eighth-ranked Florida Southern in a 76-73 overtime win in Lakeland, Fla.

Ironically, Saint Leo's last victory at the Bowman Center over a ranked foe was earlier that season, on November 23, 2013, when the Lions upended 18th-ranked USC-Aiken. The Pacers' head coach in that game: current Lions head coach Vince Alexander.

Stewart went 10-of-10 at the free-throw in the extra frame, accounting for all but three of the Lions' points in the extra session. He finished the game with a game-high 29 points on 7-of-16 shooting from the field, four of which were three pointers.  Stewart ended up 11-of-12 at the stripe.

Junior Marcus Dewberry netted 26 points with five treys on 9-of-19 shooting from the floor, to go with his four assists. Sophomore Tyreece Brice rounded out the starters in double figures with 14 points in a stellar all-around effort; he also charted five rebounds, four assists, and four steals with no turnovers in his 37 minutes of playing time.

Freshman Lawrence Watt came off the bench to add 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the field.

"That is freshmen and sophomores out there hitting big shots," said Alexander. "That's freshmen and sophomores, and that's a big thing for us right now."

"That was one of the most difficult teams to guard in the country, and we did a phenomenal job of guarding them especially in the second half. I'm just very proud of the guys," added Alexander.

The Chargers had five players in double-digits, led by Seab Webster with 16 points. Saxton and Preston Herring each tallied 13 points in the loss. Alabama-Huntsville shot at a 43.9 percent clip from the floor, and controlled the glass, 45 to 33.

The Lions held an 11-point lead at 61-50 early in the second half, but a 15-4 run by Alabama-Huntsville (1-1) turned the game into a see-saw affair down the stretch.

Brice's layup with just under three minutes remaining put Saint Leo in front by three, 77-74, and his three-pointers with less than a minute showing still had the Lions with an 80-78 lead. UAH's Troy Saxton netted a layup with 24 seconds to play, knotting the game at 80-80. Dewberry's jumper in the waning seconds was off-target, sending the contest into the extra session.

The Lions and the Chargers traded the lead six times with six ties, with Stewart accounting for 12 of Saint Leo's 13 overtime points. Dewberry connected on the first of two free throws in the final seconds, giving the Green and Gold a little extra margin.

For the game, Saint Leo shot 45.5 percent from the field. The Lions also went 21-of-24 (.875) at the free throw line, making a major correction over their effort the previous night against North Alabama.

"Winning a big game like this is huge for our program and for the guys, because we've been preaching all pre-season that we can beat anybody if we come to play. We have four things that we say: play hard, play smart, play together, and play with energy. And I thought for the majority of the game we did that," said Alexander.

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