SAINT LEO, Fla. – The Saint Leo women's basketball team is headed to the Sunshine State Conference tournament as the No. 7-seed and head to the No. 2-seed and host of the quarterfinal Florida Southern on Wednesday, March 1.
#7 Saint Leo at #2 Florida Southern
Jenkins Field House | Lakeland, Fla. Video | Live Stats
Saint Leo is 7-25 in the SSC Tournament over 26 seasons. This marks the fifth time the Lions have been the No. 7-seed in the tournament. The last time they were the No. 7-seed was in 2013 when they upset No. 2 Lynn in the quarterfinals, 68-50. The Lions then went on to top No.6 seed Tampa, 76-60, to earn a place in the finals. Saint Leo lost in the finals to the No. 4-seed Rollins, 74-56. That marked the only time the Lions have made it to the SSC Tournament Championship game. Twice while being the No. 7-seed, Saint Leo has faced Florida Southern. The Mocs won both match-ups in 2004 and 1994.
Versus the Mocs Saint Leo has an uphill battle against the Mocs as the Lions are just 10-75 against them all-time. They have managed to snag four wins in Lakeland, but FSC holds a 37-4 record against the Lions on their home floor. This season, FSC went 2-0 against the Lions. The two teams matched up back on Nov. 16, 2016, in just the third game of the season for the Lions. Chelsy Springs scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds in that game, but as a team, the Lions committed 25 turnovers and 22 personal fouls, as the Lions fell to then-No. 4, 72-54. In the second meeting at Saint Leo, the Lions fell 74-61. Four different Lions scored double figures, led by Asia Royster who tallied 14. Springs recorded a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. The Lions minimized their turnovers in that game, only committing 12.
Springs' Season Chelsy Springs has been the Lions go to this season, averaging a conference-best 16.2 points per game on 45.5-percent shooting. She is also grabbing 8.3 rebounds per game. Springs has tallied 21 double-digit games and nine 20-plus point games. She also scored her first career 30-point performance in the final game of the regular season. She recorded nine double-doubles on the season.
Royster's Resurgence Asia Royster has improved her game drastically over the course of the season, and after missing two games in the middle of the season, Royster's productivity has elevated drastically. Before her two-game hiatus, Royster was averaging just 4.8 points per game and grabbing just 2.7 rebounds per game. She had only recorded two double-digit performances over 14 games. When Royster returned for the Lions, she flipped a switch. The sophomore guard increased her points per game average to 12.2, and her rebounding climbed to 7.4 boards per game. She tallied two double-doubles over that time and has decreased her turnovers. She also has six double-digit performances over ten games, including a career-high 28 points against Lynn.
Coach's Quotes When asked about how the team's mindset has changed over the season: "We are just committed to getting better daily instead of focusing on wins, losses, and postseason position. We also took notice that we were able to play against one of the toughest teams in the conference in Florida Southern and in that loss we gained a ton of confidence."
When asked how he was able to keep his team focused despite suffering a nine-game losing stretch: "Our coaches never stopped working, and that's the biggest difference. After two of the hardest losses of the year, home against Rollins and at Embry-Riddle, our staff came together trying to find adjustments that affected us in a positive manner. When you care about your players and just focus on getting better daily, your players will respond, and they did respond. January was a hard month, but we certainly played our best basketball in February."
When asked what has been the biggest impact this season: "Our guards have played well in our wins and they made a big difference as the turnover to assist ratio in our wins is excellent. We've also had some pretty impressive individual performances against various teams throughout the season. And of course, Chelsy Springs is a very special player."
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