ST. PETERSBURG - Jonathan Lawton scored 24 points to lead six players in double figures as Florida Southern College men's basketball scored 50 points in the second half of a 91-80 victory over Eckerd on Wednesday night at the McArthur Center. The No. 23 Moccasins (20-5, 13-4 SSC) helped keep their hopes for a Sunshine State Conference regular-season title alive by finishing off the season sweep of the Tritons (17-8, 10-7).
The Mocs shot 55.4 percent from the floor and hit 12 three-pointers in the contest. Slinky Jones (19), Jack Rauch (17), Kai Cleary (11), Brett Hanson (10), and Ben Marello (10) all scored in double figures and Florida Southern outrebounded Eckerd 41-28 to remain in a second-place tie in the SSC as Lynn lost to conference-leading Nova Southeastern on Wednesday.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Florida Southern got off to a fast start when it jumped out to a 7-3 on Rauch's three-pointer with 17:56 to go in the first half. Eckerd used an 8-0 run to go up 11-7 less than two minutes later and the teams traded jabs until near the midpoint of the opening period when the Mocs opened up a 21-14 lead on a Rauch three with 12:24 on the clock.
- The Moccasins led 39-28 when Lawton drilled a three-pointer with 5:22 to play in the first half, but the Tritons closed out the half on an 11-2 run to trim the deficit to 41-39 at the half. Lawton scored 10 points in the first half and the Mocs shot 53.1 percent (17-of-32) from the floor.
- Eckerd's momentum carried onto the early part of the second half as it scored the opening six points to take its first lead of the game (45-41) with 17:42 left in the game. Trailing 51-45 with just over 15 minutes to play, Jones and Lawton nailed back-to-back three-pointers to tie things up and took a 65-53 lead then Lawton capped off a 20-2 run to give the Mocs the lead (65-53) with 11:14 to go.
- The run proved to be the difference in the game as Eckerd never regained the lead. The Tritons sliced their deficit to five (69-64) with seven minutes to play, but it would be all the closer Eckerd would get as Florida Southern dominated over the final five minutes, outscoring the Tritons 20-15 over the final five minutes and leading by as many as 12 in the final minute of play.
- Lawton finished 10-of-17 from the floor, while Hanson grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds and dished out five assists. Both Lawton (14) and Jones (12) scored in double figures in the second half alone and Rauch, who had eight boards, tallied six rebounds in the second half.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
- Florida Southern improved to 72-40 all-time against Eckerd, including a 27-22 mark when facing the Tritons on the road. The victory kept Florida Southern in a second-place tie in the SSC with Lynn, which fell to 13-4 in conference play on Wednesday with its loss to Nova Southeastern. The Mocs currently hold the tiebreaker over the Fighting Knights as FSC is 1-1 against NSU this season, and Lynn fell both times it faced the Sharks.
- Lawton scored in double figures for the 46th-straight game dating back to last year. Lawton increased his FSC scoring total to 1,261 and needs just 12 more to move into 16th in school history in scoring. He has scored a total of 1,824 points in his collegiate career after tallying 563 points in two seasons at St. Thomas Aquinas. He is 17th in career scoring among active NCAA Division II players and is on pace to set the Florida Southern school record for career scoring average with his 23.0 ppg.
- Hanson continued his ascent up the all-time scoring list at Florida Southern by pushing his career total to 1,377. He ranks 12th in school history in scoring. Hanson needs just 40 more points to move into the top 10 and is on pace to score more than 1,800 points in his career. Only four other Moccasins have ever surpassed 1,800 career points.
- Wednesday's contest was featured on ESPN3 as part of the DII Basketball Showcase.
- The Moccasins are back home on Feb. 23 against Barry, travel to Saint Leo on Feb. 27, and close out the regular season at home against Rollins on March 2.