LAKELAND, FL - A 63-point explosion in the second half helped Florida Southern College men's basketball rally past visiting Lindenwood, 99-91, on Saturday evening at Streamline Sale Arena at Jenkins Field House. Jonathan Lawton poured in 27 second-half points, and the No. 10 Moccasins (7-1) overcame a slow start by knocking down 58.1 percent of their shots in the final 20 minutes to defeat the Lions (7-6).
The contest marked the end of a 10-day break for the Mocs, who had not played since a Dec. 5 win over Embry-Riddle. In addition to Lawton, Brett Hanson (24), Ben Marello (16), and Kai Cleary (10) rounded out a group of four starters in double figure while freshman guard DeAndre Campbell poured in 11 off the bench. Saturday's contest was the fifth in a season-long stretch of seven-straight home games, which concludes with the final non-conference contests of the season against Cedarville (Dec. 18) and Bloomfield (Dec. 19).
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Florida Southern got off to an extremely slow start as the Moccasins hit just three shots over the first five and a half minutes of action as Lindenwood built a 15-7 lead with 14:40 to go in the first half. After a quick 6-0 run sliced the deficit to just two (15-13) just over a minute later, Brad Newman would hit a three-pointer to put the Lions back up by five as Lindenwood went on a 13-7 run over the next five minutes to build a 28-20 advantage with just 8:53 to go in the half.
- Although the Mocs were able to pull within a single point later in the half and stayed within striking distance for most of the opening period, the Lions never surrendered the lead and looked as if they would head into halftime with all the momentum after taking a 39-30 advantage with just 2:43 to go. However, the Moccasins finished the half on a 6-0 run which capped off by Hanson's layup with 34 seconds to go, and trailed by just three (39-36) at the break.
- Trailing by five (43-38) in the early stages of the second period, Lawton would score six-straight points to give Florida Southern its first lead of the game (44-43) with a shade under 18 minutes to play. Lindenwood answered with four consecutive points to go back up by three (47-44) at the 16:30 mark, but Hanson tied things up from long range on Southern's next possession.
- Down 53-50 with just under 14 minutes to go, the Mocs would kick things into high gear as Hanson hit a layup and Lawton made all three free-throw attempts after being fouled on a shot attempt from deep to go in front for (55-53) with 12:51 remaining. The Lions would briefly tie things at 55-55 on their next possession, but the Moccasins mounted a 9-4 run to go up by five (64-59) and led the rest of the way.
- Florida Southern took its first double-digit lead of the game (72-61) on Marello's three-pointer with 9:15 to go and fought off several rallies by the Lions late in the second half and hit 11-of-12 free-throw attempts over the final three minutes to seal the victory.
- Lawton finished with a game-high 30 points on a 7-of-14 effort from the floor. He connected on 5-of-9 three-point attempts, was a perfect 11-of-11 at the charity stripe, and dished six assists. Hanson tallied a double-double by adding 10 rebounds to his stat line, while Cleary snagged five boars in his first career start. Campbell scored nine of his career-best 11 points in the second half.
- As a team, Florida Southern shot 48.4 percent on the night, including 11-of-25 from long range, and connected on 26-of-33 free-throw attempts. The Mocs did a fantastic job of protecting the ball as they committed just six turnovers, and outscored the Lions 18-4 in points off turnovers. Lindenwood was led by a trio of 20-point scorers, with Newman and Chandler Diekvoss leading the way with 21 points each.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
- Saturday's meeting between Florida Southern and Lindenwood was the first-ever between the two schools, but not the first for Lions' head coach Lance Randall, who spent four years at Sunshine State Conference rival Saint Leo (2011-15).
- Moccasin head coach Mike Donnelly picked up the 245th win of his career on Saturday. He is 245-201 in 14 seasons as a collegiate head coach, including a 49-49 record at Florida Southern.
- Hanson pushed his career scoring total to 1,089 points. He moved up two spots in the FSC record book and now ranks 28th in school history in career scoring. Just 328 points separate Hanson from the top 10 scorers in school history. Lawton pushed his scoring total to 866 in a Moccasin uniform as he continues his chase to become the 43rd player in school history with 1,000 points at Florida Southern. He has scored 1,429 points in his collegiate career after tallying 563 in two seasons at St. Thomas Aquinas.
- Saturday's game served as Alumni Day for the FSC men's basketball program, which welcomed more than 40 former student-athletes, coaches, and managers from teams over the last 50 years. Several former players took part in an alumni game prior to Saturday's contest against Lindenwood.
- Florida Southern will take on Cedarville (Dec. 18) and Bloomfield (Dec. 19) in its final non-conference contests of the season. The Moccasins jump back into SSC play on Dec. 29 at Nova Southeastern to close out the calendar year.