SAINT LEO, Fla. –Caleb Stewart's career night led the Saint Leo men's basketball team on Saturday evening, as the Lions hosted Rollins College in Sunshine State Conference action, but it was Marcus Dewberry's heroics that saved the day, as the Lions topped the tars, 77-75, on Dewberry's buzzer-beating lay-up.
Stewart finished the game with a career-high 30 points as he returned to the starting line-up for the first time in the last three games. The sophomore added a team-high eight rebounds, and dished out two assists, and snagged one steal while playing a team-high 38 minutes.
Dewberry, who earned his fourth foul with over seven minutes to play, managed to stave off that fifth foul, and provided his end of the game heroics by putting up the lay-up to finish the game with 14.
Freshman Carter Belling added 15 points, connecting on five of nine from deep, all in the first half.
The Basics Final Score: Saint Leo 77 | Rollins 75 Location: Bowman Center, Saint Leo, Fla. Records: Saint Leo 10-6, 4-3 SSC | Rollins 10-5, 3-3 SSC
How It Happened 1H | Hot-shooting from deep highlighted the opening period as Stewart hit back-to-back three point baskets right out of the gate. A jumper from Rollins' Jeff Merton gave the visitor's their first lead of the game, going up 7-6. From there, Carter Belling hit a three, and the Lions never looked back. Saint Leo connected of six of nine shots from deep in the opening eight minutes to send a message to the Tars, who were in a three-two zone most of the evening. Belling was hot in the first half, hitting a total of five of nine for the period, scoring all 15 of his points in the game. Stewart joined Belling with 15 in the first half as well, with just six points coming from deep. While the Lions dominated from deep, the Tars took advantage inside, scoring 18 points in the paint. | Saint Leo 36-35 |
2H | Rollins came out fighting in the second half, trading leads with the Lions for the first 10 minutes, until Saint Leo scored six straight points to build a bit of a gap with 6:50 left in the game. The substitution of Pete Okonkwo off the bench helped spark the Lions down the stretch. The 6-foot-8 freshman center recorded his first two blocks of his career, and three rebounds, a timely tip-in with 4:10 left to play. With a minute left to go in the game, Lions up 74-73, Trail Pierce earned his fifth foul, and the Tars earned two shots at the line. With Pierce out of the game, the Lions subbed in Okonkwo for the final minute. Rollins' Sam Philpott connected on both free throw attempts, giving the visitors a 75-74 advantage with 54-seconds left to play. The Lions took the ball down the court, giving the ball to Stewart, who was the hot-shooter with 30 points in the game. Stewart's lay-up fell short, but Marcus Dewberry grabbed the offensive rebounds, and dished it to Okonkwo who went up for the shot and earned the foul. Okonkwo, who was just one of five from the line before entering the game, stepped up to the line and knocked down one of the biggest free throws of his young career, tying the game at 75. His second shot fell short, and was rebounded by the Tars. Rollins took a timeout, drawing up a play to try and win the game. The ball was put in play and Deion Clark, the Tars' leading scorer, took the shot with six seconds on the clock. The ball fell in Dewberry's hands, and the swift-footed guard took the ball coast-to-coast, sinking the game-winning lay-up as time expired. | Saint Leo 77-75 |
Points to Note
Stewart provided the Lions with the team's third 30-point performance of the season. Dewberry holds the other two, posting his last on Wednesday when he finished the win over Florida Tech with a career-best 34.
This was Belling's ninth game with multiple made three-point field goals. He is shooting an impressive 43.2-percent on the season from deep.
Dewberry put together his ninth straight double-digit performance, and his 15th of the season. He has also hit four or more three-point shots in each of the last three games.
As a team, the Lions dished out 19 assists, led by Tyreece Brice who finished the game with six.
This is Saint Leo's third straight win over Rollins, after taking both games in the 2014-15 season.
For the Tars
Clark led the way for Rollins, scoring 21 points, while Merton followed with 15. Off the bench, the Tars saw Philpott finish with 12, while Eric Castaneda added 11 points and a team-high 8 rebounds.
The Tars forced the Lions in to 13 turnovers, while only committing 10 of their own. They also grabbed eight steals.
Rollins used 29 free throw attempts, connecting on 22, to help them stay in the action on Saturday.
Up Next Saint Leo takes a break from Sunshine State Conference play on Wednesday, Jan. 13, when the Lions host Embry-Riddle, a future SSC member, at 7:30 PM.
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