Sailfish Give Lions a Battle but Saint Leo Firepower Proves Too Much for PBA

Written by: Michael Brown, Assistant A.D. for Communications

Christian Martinez (Pictured, Left) Returned to the PBA Lineup on Wednesday Following a One Game Absence and Drained 4-of-7 Shots from 3-Point Land and 15 Total Points. Photo  Courtesy of: Neil Hayes.Christian Martinez (Pictured, Left) Returned to the PBA Lineup on Wednesday Following a One Game Absence and Drained 4-of-7 Shots from 3-Point Land and 15 Total Points. Photo Courtesy of: Neil Hayes.

Box Score

SAINT LEO, Fla.- After an up and down first-half saw the Sailfish men’s basketball team trail by as many as 16 points to Saint Leo, the Fish would give the Lions all they could handle in the second stanza. In the end however the disciplined Lions’ squad would be victorious as they wrapped up a 68-62 win over the Fish at the Bowman Center.

 The loss drops PBA to 1-17 on the season while SLU improves to 14-4.

Four PBA players reached double-figures on the night including three players off the bench in Christian Martinez (15 points), Dante Valentine (15 points) and Salim Fauras (12 points). They along with Marcus Hardy gave the Fish all but seven of the team’s points while each topped 28 minutes of court time.

Valentine returned to the lineup following a two-game absence due to injury and responded in a big way by knocking down 7-of-13 shots from the field while adding in four rebounds, three assists and two steals in 37 minutes.

After struggling with their shot in the opening half to the tune of a 37.5-percent (9-24) field-goal percentage, the Fish responded with a blistering second-half performance as they connected on 15-of-25 shots from the field for a spectacular 60-percent mark.

The opposite nearly rained true for the Lions who knocked down 56-percent (14-25) of their first-half opportunities before settling in at 42.9-percent (12-28) in the second-half.

Perhaps the difference in the end result came through the big play of SLU guard Marcus Ruh who nailed all five of his 3-point shots while finishing with game-high honors of 24 points and adding in six rebounds and six steals in 37 minutes.

As has been the case in several games this season for PBA, a dreadful start would play a big role in their their demise.

Saint Leo jumped out of the gates to an impressive 18-2 run as Ruh and Co. left little doubt on their intentions to claim a home win.

But as has been their nature, the Fish wouldn’t lay down. PBA responded from the rough start with an 8-0 run of their own as two 3-pointers from Martinez sandwiched a pair of Hardy free-throws to cut the deficit to 18-10 with 12:03 to play in the opening half.

The tables would then be turned again as Saint Leo rattled off a 10-2 run to stretch their lead back out to a game-high 16 points with 7:32 to play in the first period.

The two squads would trade baskets the remainder of the half as the Fish settled for a 37-24 halftime deficit.

With the Saint Leo lead hovering around 10 points early in the second-half the Fish would make some adjustments and begin to get the home-standing Lions out of their rhythm.

A layup by Valentine with just under nine minutes to go would get the Sailfish as close as 56-54 as PBA hoped to close the gap and shock the Green and Gold for an upset.

Those dreams would be dashed however as SLU would buckle down and never let PBA tie or take the lead down the stretch.

The score would remain under double-digits the rest of the way as Saint Leo closed out the game at the free-throw line.

The Lions earned the advantage in rebounding (33-24) and turnovers (14-18) as the teams shot nearly identical from the floor for the game.

PBA will host the University of Tampa on Saturday, Feb. 2 at 4 pm at the Rubin Arena.

 

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