ATLANTA - A poor-shooting first half proved to be too much to overcome as Florida Southern College men's basketball saw its season come to an end in a 90-77 loss to Eckerd in the semifinal round of the NCAA South Regional on Sunday at Forbes Arena. The Moccasins (21-11) shot just 28.6 percent and scored 20 points in the first half as the Tritons (26-6) built a 12-point halftime lead and never looked back en route to the victory and an appearance in Tuesday's South Region title game.
The Mocs were able to slice the deficit to as few as seven points (68-61) late in the second half, but could not make up for the slow start as Eckerd outscored Florida Southern 22-16 over the last six-plus minutes of play to come away with the win. Despite the loss, the Moccasins put together an incredibly successful season by winning 21 games, finishing third in the Sunshine State Conference regular-season standings and conference tournament, and defeating top-seeded Morehouse in the first round of regional play.
HOW IT HAPPENED
• Neither team seemed to be in sync to start off the game as the contest was particularly low-scoring through the first 15 minutes of action. Eckerd was the first to hit 20 points when it took a 20-18 lead with 4:19 to go in the opening frame en route to a 31-20 halftime lead. Prior to that, the Tritons had built an early seven-point lead (12-5) but the Mocs ripped off a 7-0 run to tie things at 12-12 with 9:07 on the clock. However, Florida Southern was never able to get back in front at any point in the game.
• The Moccasins' offensive woes carried into the early stages of the second half as they were held to just six points in the opening four minutes of action. Trailing by 10 (65-55) with 7:41 to play, Florida Southern was able to battle back to make it a seven-point contest on a pair of free throws at the 6:11 mark. It would be as close as the Mocs could get, however, as Eckerd kept its foot on the gas to set up an all-SSC regional final against Barry on Tuesday night.
• Jonathan Lawton led the Moccasins with 24 points, while Brett Hanson added 13 and Trey Diggs poured in 16 off the bench. Diggs also led Florida Southern with five rebounds, while Hanson dished out four assists. Eckerd was paced by Drushaun McLaurn's 37 points and 15 rebounds, while Trevon Young added 19 points. The Mocs outscored the Tritons 36-3 at the three-point line but hit just 40.6 percent (26-of-64) from the floor while Eckerd connected on 50.8 percent (30-of-59). The Tritons dominated the glass by outrebounding Florida Southern 49-23 and outscored the Moccasins 40-26 in the paint.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
• Florida Southern dropped to 45-31 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, including a 31-23 mark in South Region games. The loss was just the second for the Mocs when playing in the South Region semifinals, as Florida Southern fell to 11-2 in regional semifinal matchups. The Moccasins fell to 38-15 all-time against Eckerd, including 0-2 in the NCAA Tournament.
• Lawton finished the year with 709 points, the most by any Moccasin since Derek Flowers scored 727 during the 1990-91 campaign. Lawton's scoring total is the fourth-highest in school history, while his scoring average of 22.2 points per game is tied for the fourth-best all time and is the best since Flowers (22.7) in 1990-91.
• Hanson capped off his sophomore campaign with 951 career points and will enter his junior season just 49 points shy of becoming the 42nd player in school history to score 1,000 career points for the Mocs.
• Sunday's game marked the final contest for Tyler Ross and Luke St. Lifer as members of the Florida Southern men's basketball team. Ross, the only player left from FSC's 2015 National Championship squad, finished his career having played in 115 games with 45 starts. He averaged 6.1 points and 4.5 rebounds per game during his career. St. Lifer, a former manager turned walk-on, played in 22 games over three seasons and made one start.