Sailfish Hang Tough but #3-Ranked Moccasins Too Strong in the End
December 12, 2009
Written By: Michael Brown, PBA Sports Information Director
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.- Despite an electric start that featured an 11-0 Sailfish lead to start the game, the Palm Beach Atlantic University men’s basketball team was unable to sustain that early momentum on Saturday evening as they fell 66-56 to a very talented Florida Southern College squad. The #3-ranked team in the NCAA Division II, the Mocs stayed in control down the stretch to preserve the victory after a late comeback effort from the Sailfish came up just short.
Still undefeated on the season at 8-0, the Mocs proved why they have earned such a lofty early-season ranking as they battled back from the early deficit and produced a second-half comeback as well after trailing 29-28 at the break.
Neither squad shot particuraly well in the first stanza as PBA was limited to a 11-of-33 showing (33%) while FSC produced a slightly better showing of 10-of-26 (38%). Only one player on the floor reached double-figures in the first-half with PBA’s Chris Joseph tallying 10 points on 3-of-6 from the field and 4-of-4 from the free-throw line. Joseph’s four free-throws were the only foul shots taken by the Fish while FSC was limited to only six trips to the charity stripe.
After PBA’s big start that featured a pair of Jonathan Lawrence baskets and capped off with a Phil Pejovic triple, the Mocs began to calm down and go to work. At the 14:13 mark of the first-half, Mocs guard Rion Rayfield nailed a long three-pointer to cut the deficit to 14-10 as both teams pushed the ball up and down the floor.
A layup from Preston Fredrick and a three-ball from Terry Jenkins then put FSC on top for the first-time on the night as they led 15-14 with 10:50 left in the half.
The two teams battled for the remainder of the half with neither team leading by more than three-points.
PBA big-man David Gabriel began the second-half for PBA with a bucket underneath to expand the lead to three points at 31-28 but back came the Mocs who proceeded to take the lead back for the remainder of the game. Over the next several minutes the FSC lead would hover around 5-7 points before finally busting through with a 10-point lead on a Rayfield trey with 8:11 remaining to jump in front 52-42.
The lead would grow to as many as 14 points with less than four minutes to play before PBA made one last final run. A three-pointer by DeAndre Williams started the rally followed by unanswered buckets from both Joseph and junior Hunter Ross along with a foul to get within six points with 2:16 to play.
The veteran Mocs however would then again come through with some clutch baskets and walk out of the Rubin Arena a winner for the eighth time in eight games this season.
Joseph paced the Sailfish scoring efforts with a team-high 14 points on 5-of-14 from the field while adding in nine rebounds. Ross followed next with 12 points and six rebounds in 33 minutes of action. Sophomore Phil Pejovic added in nine points on 3-of-11 from beyond the arc.
FSC forward John Thompson led all players with 20 points on 8-of-14 from the field and 4-of-5 from the free-throw line. He added in eight rebounds as well, also tops on the club.
Fayfield chipped in with a solid 17 points on 5-of-13 from the floor including 3-of-7 from long-range while Brandon Jenkins registered 10 points.
PBA will take the next week off from game action as they will rest up for a Monday, December 21st home matchup with Florida Tech at 4 p.m. in the Rubin Arena.