Moccasins Score 55 Second-Half Points to End Regular Season With 90-76 Win at PBA
WEST PALM BEACH – For the Florida Southern Moccasins, 55 was the operative number Saturday night in their regular season finale against Palm Beach Atlantic, and a double dose of that number will send them into the Sunshine State Conference Tournament on a three-game winning streak. Florida Southern matched its second-half shooting percentage with 55 points, and got 22 in the game from Kevin Capers in a 90-76 win over the Sailfish.
Only once in the final 6½ minutes did Palm Beach Atlantic (4-22) get closer than nine, but Florida Southern (17-9) had to work hard to take control of the game and get head coach Linc Darner his 200th career win. The Mocs trailed by as many as 11 in the first half and didn’t take the lead for good until a steal by Brett Bailey led to a fast-break jumper by Cameron Vines that put the Mocs on top, 54-52, with 13:12 remaining in the game. That played sparked a 10-0 run by the Moccasins, and it featured a dunk by Capers after another steal by Seth Evans, and a pair of layups by Bailey that were assisted by Capers.
When consecutive baskets by PBA’s Terrell Terry trimmed the deficit down to six, Capers completed a three-point play with 9:55 on the clock, and the Sailfish never got closer than nine after that.
Dominic Lane made sure the Mocs stayed comfortably ahead too. The sophomore guard offset two PBA 3-point field goals by scoring 10 straight points for Florida Southern that included a pair of long-range bombs of his own.
Capers’ night included 6-for-9 shooting from the floor, one 3-pointer, and 9-for-14 shooting from the line. The freshman guard also had six assists and three steals. Lane had 15 points and six rebounds, and was 3-for-6 from long range, while Evans scored 16 points, had four assists and four steals. He matched Lane with three 3-pointers.
Bailey finished with 12 points, Vines had nine points and six boards, and Garrett Putman put up eight points and pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds. Tyler Kelly also scored eight points and had four assists.
PBA matched Florida Southern with four players in double figures, led by Ian Sitz, who scored 18 points while going 6-for-11 from the floor and 6-for-7 from the line. Dante Valentine scored 16 points, Terry had 13 points and eight rebounds, and Matthew Gierl scored 10.
The Sailfish led nearly the entire first half, and did lead from the 15:38 mark forward. With the score tied at six, the Sailfish rattled off nine straight points, with field goals coming from four different players, including a 3-pointer by Gierl that ended the run. By the time the first-half clock reached 6:48, Palm Beach Atlantic was ahead 23-12, Florida Southern was shooting just 26 percent and had more turnovers (11) than field goals (5).
The Moccasins began their turn-around after that, largely behind the play of Capers. Scoring seven of the Mocs’ next nine points, Capers helped get Florida Southern within 26-21 before a three-point play by Gierl and fast-break layup by Valentine pushed the Sailfish lead up to 10 again. Capers though, came back with a big offensive rebound and fed Evans for a 3-pointer that trimmed the deficit back to seven.
Four times in the final two minutes of the first half, the Moccasins cut it to four, with Putman doing the honors twice. The final time came on two free throws by Kelly four seconds before the break, leaving PBA with a 39-35 halftime advantage despite making just one field goal in the final four minutes.
The Mocs started the second half with 3-pointers by Capers and Evans that gave them a two-point lead. It was one of five lead changes and five ties during the first seven minutes of the second half, but the last lead change came when Vines hit his jumper to put the Mocs ahead 54-52.
Florida Southern will now turn its attention to the Sunshine State Conference Tournament, which begins Wednesday night with first-round games at campus sites. The Moccasins, who are seeded fifth in the tournament, will play at fourth-seeded Rollins, with a game time to be determined. The Moccasins and Tars both went 9-7 in league play this year, but the Tars earned the higher seed and subsequent home game by sweeping the Mocs.