Sailfish Battle Tough Saint Leo Squad but Fall in the End 73-67 to Begin the New Year
January 2, 2013
Written by: Michael Brown, Assistant A.D. for Communications
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.- The Sailfish men’s basketball began a busy stretch of competition in the Rubin Arena this week by hosting Saint Leo (Fla.) University on Wednesday evening for the team’s first contest in 18 days. Although the Fish would push the Lions until the final horn sounded, a resilient defensive effort paired with some strong shooting by SLU gave the Green and Gold a 73-67 victory to open the 2013 portion of the season schedule.
The Lions (8-2) posted a 49.1-percent (26-53) shooting mark for the contest as they handed the Sailfish (1-8) their sixth straight loss as both teams looked to shake off any rust from the holiday break.
Utilizing their size and experience, the Lions shot near the 50-percent mark in both halves while dominating with their inside play to the tune of a 36-14 advantage in the paint.
Palm Beach Atlantic would take advantage of a strong shooting night from the outside to keep the game within striking distance until the final minute as the Fish buried a season-high 11 three-pointers in the contest including five triples each from junior guards Christian Martinez and Johnny Lantz.
In the end however it was the team’s play inside the 3-point arc that sunk their chances in knocking off Saint Leo as the Fish closed out the contest with only a 37.3-percent (19-51) overall mark for the game.
A superb first-half showing from Saint Leo guard Marcus Ruh helped lead the Lions to a slim 35-32 first-half advantage as Ruh dialed up 19 points to lead all scorers while connecting on 6-of-8 shots from the field while knocking down 5-of-6 shots from the charity stripe.
Martinez paced the Sailfish with 11 points in the opening stanza as neither team led by more than seven points during the half.
Ruh began the second-half much as he did the first 20 minutes by burying a long-range jumper to give his team a six-point lead as the Fish would be pushed for a response.
A three-point bomb from Lantz would be the immediate answer for PBA as they would go on a 13-6 run to take a 45-44 lead on a rare four-point play from Martinez as he was fouled following a made trey with 15:35 remaining in the ballgame.
The teams would trade baskets for much of the next several minutes until Saint Leo grabbed a 53-52 lead with 10:04 remaining following a Jaylon Bell layup underneath.
The Lion’s lead would increase to as many as 12 points in the second-half before a late PBA surge cut things to as close as four points with 23 seconds left as Lantz connected on his final 3-pointer of the night.
Critical foul shots down the stretch and a strong defensive-minded effort by SLU kept PBA from getting a crack at a potential game-tying shot down the stretch.
After his torrid first-half, Ruh was mainly quiet in the second period but he still remained the night’s top scorer with a total of 26 points on 8-of-15 shooting.
Shaun Adams and Bell each chipped in 13 points to round out the double-digit Saint Leo scorers.
The Sailfish were paced by 21 points from Martinez as he concluded his night 6-of-13 from the field including 5-of-7 from long-range.
Lantz added in 15 points on his five three-balls while freshman Jonathan Kreidt came through with a solid performance off the Sailfish bench with a career-high 13 points and five rebounds in 20 minutes.
PBA leading scorer Marcus Hardy was held well below his season average with only six points however the sophomore big-man added in seven rebounds and a career-high of five blocks. Dante Valentine chipped in seven points, six rebounds and six steals before fouling out.
The Sailfish will have a quick turnaround for their next scheduled contest as they will host Concordia (Can.) University on Thursday at 7 pm in the Rubin Arena.