SAINT LEO, Fla. – Saint Leo made shots down the stretch when it needed to. Florida Southern failed to convert free throws when it had to.
The result was a 91-89 come-from-behind victory for the Lions over the defending national champion Mocs, in a Sunshine State Conference men's basketball thriller at the Marion Bowman Activities Center.
Saint Leo (6-2, 2-1 SSC) outscored Florida Southern 15-2 over the final 2:44 to clinch the win, while Florida Southern (4-3, 2-1 SSC) was held to an anemic 2-of-8 at the free-throw line in the final minute.
Sophomore Tyreece Brice paced the Lions with 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the field. Freshman Carter Belling and junior Marcus Dewberry each tacked on 20 points in the victory, with Belling connecting on four three-pointers – including a trey with 1:14 left in the game to tie the game at 87-87. Belling also drained a pair of foul shots with 17 seconds remaining, extending the Lions' lead to three points, 91-88.
The Basics: Final Score: Saint Leo 91, Florida Southern 89 Location: Bowman Center | Saint Leo, Fla. Records: Saint Leo 6-2, 2-1 SSC | Florida Southern 4-3, 2-1 SSC
How It Happened
1H | An early Saint Leo lead reached its zenith at four points, 17-13, with 11:51 remaining in the opening frame on a Brice layup. Florida Southern came back with a 16-5 run lasting nearly four minutes, ending with a Dominique Williams layup to give the Mocs a 29-22 advantage. The Mocs briefly stretched the lead to 10 points, 38-28, on a Sheldon Zablotny trey with 5:38 to play, but seven straight points by the Lions cut the Mocs' lead to one possession. Saint Leo was still within three of FSC at 40-37 on an Austin Pickett jumper, but Florida Southern connected on some late free throws and took a six-point lead into the locker room at the break. The Mocs shot 48.5 percent (17-of-39) from the field in the opening frame, including five three-pointers. | Florida Southern 47-41 |
2H |Saint Leo twice reeled in the Mocs to make it a one-point game, but both times were unable to overtake Florida Southern. A back-to-back jumper and three-pointer by Brice in the opening two minutes of the second half cut the Mocs' lead to 47-46, but a pair of long threes by Trey Moore and a Williams layup quickly had Florida Southern back in front by three possessions by the 15-minute mark. The Lions again pulled to within a single point of the Mocs with approximately 11 minutes remaining, following a Belling three and a Brice layup. Dylan Travis temporarily rescued Florida Southern with a three-pointer and a jumper, extending the Moc lead to 70-64. Florida Southern's lead reached 11 points, 87-76, with 2:49 remaining when Saint Leo began finding its outside shooting touch. Belling and Caleb Stewart combined to hit three-pointers on three straight trips down the floor, ending with Belling's trey to tie the game. Travis converted the second of two free throws to give Florida Southern a one-point lead, but Dewberry put the Lions in front for good with a layup with 40 seconds to play. After a missed foul shot and turnover by FSC's Tyler Ross, the Mocs fouled Belling to put him on the line. The freshman from Kaukauna, Wis., drained both foul shots, giving the Lions a three-point advantage. Williams missed a pair of Moc foul shots while Travis hit one of his two free throws in the waning seconds, sealing the Saint Leo win. | Saint Leo 91-89 |
Points to Note
Tyreece Brice's 23 points was a career high, eclipsing the previous high of 15 points set in the Lions' season opener versus North Alabama. Carter Belling also hit a career high with 20 points, and his four three-pointers matched a career best.
Marcus Dewberry's 20 points was his third 20-point game of the season, and the sixth of his career.
The Lions shot 50.7 percent from the field (35-of-69), their best field goal shooting percentage of the season.
Wednesday night's win over Florida Southern was the Lions' first win over the Mocs at the Bowman Center since January 9, 2013, when Saint Leo downed Florida Southern, 71-63. Each of the Lions' last two victories over the Mocs have come at the Jenkins Field House. Saint Leo now has an 18-88 record all-time versus Florida Southern.
For the Mocs
Dylan Travis had 28 points for Florida Southern, while Dominique Williams finished with 23. Trey Moore added 15 points. Tyler Ross finished with four points, but grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds.
Florida Southern outrebounded Saint Leo, 42 to 37, and shot a fairly impressive 45.2 percent (33-of-73) from the floor.
From the Coach
Head Coach Vince Alexander: "I think our guys did a great job of not giving up and that's something we want to establish in our program – to fight to the end, to give it all you have, always believe you have a chance to win, and I thought our guys did a great job with that. I'm very blessed to be able to coach such a great group of guys in my first year. I'm blessed by the win, and I'm blessed by having a great group of kids."
Up next Saint Leo heads to the road for its next contest on Saturday, Dec. 5, when it travels to Boca Raton, Fla., to face Lynn University. Tip-off is slated for 4:00 p.m.
For the latest news, updates, and information on the Saint Leo men's basketball, 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.