No. 8-Ranked Florida Southern Survives Second-Half Scare with 88-84 Win Over the Sailfish

Written by: Michael Brown, Assistant A.D. for External Operations

Box Score

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.- The Palm Beach Atlantic and Florida Southern College men’s basketball teams gave the Rubin Arena crowd quite the entertaining game on Saturday night as the No. 8-ranked Moccasins survived a late scoring spurt by PBA to hold off the Sailfish by an 88-84 final tally. The ‘Fish saw big performances from a new-look lineup while the loss drops the team to 8-17 on the season.

The Sailfish jumped out with a hot start thanks to the deadly outside shooting through the first few minutes by senior Christian Martinez. The Miami, Fla. native backed up his 29-point output earlier in the week at Florida Tech with some big early long-balls on Saturday night.

His fourth and final 3-pointer of the half came with 14:27 remaining as he buried a deep trey that put the ‘Fish up 17-6 just over five minutes into the contest.

After the fast start the Sailfish began to feel the pressure of the Mocs (23-3)  as Florida Southern cut the lead to just one point with 9:17 to play after a pair of Tyler Logan free-throws.

From that point both teams would battle the remainder of the half as the score was 39-39 into halftime.

With both teams playing an up-tempo and physical brand of basketball the fouls began to mount on both sides as the two teams combined to shoot 28 free-throws in the opening half with the Mocs knocking down 10-of-12 and the ‘Fish connecting on 9-of-16 trips to the charity stripe.

Martinez led the PBA scoring effort in the first-half as he poured in 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting and 4-of-6 from beyond the arc. Kevin Capers led the Mocs with 16 points in the opening half while adding in four rebounds and a pair of assists.

A technical foul called against Capers after time had expired in the first-half proved to be a big difference in the contest as the star-guard for the Mocs would later get another technical in the second-half and be ejected from the game. At the time of his ejection Capers led the team with 18 points on 8-of-16 shooting.

Despite the loss of Capers the Mocs would regain control of the game early in the second-half and push their lead out to as many as 10 points when Logan delivered a fastbreak bucket with 13:17 to go as FSC led 60-50.

Although their options appeared bleak the ‘Fish found another gear and quickly stormed back down the stretch even taking a 77-76 lead with 4:08 to play on a layup by junior Ronnell Ross.

Things would remain close down to the final play as Florida Southern held for the last shot after a free-throw from Marko Djekovic tied the game at 84-84 with 28 seconds remaining. A shot by Larmar Knight was missed on the Mocs’ first attempt but a heads up play by Stephen Battle resulted in a putback basket with 2.1 seconds left to push the Mocs in front 86-84.

A long inbounds pass by the ‘Fish would go unsuccessful on the final play as the Mocs intercepted the attempted half-court pass and ran out the clock at the free-throw line.

Martinez finished tied with Ross for team-high honors of 20 points while Evin Graham managed 14 points off the bench. Ross led the team alongside Djekovic with seven rebounds while Djekovic produced seven assists and six points in a season-high 33 minutes.

Battle’s big basket was part of a 17-point night including a perfect 9-of-9 at the free-throw line that helped lead the Mocs to victory.

Palm Beach Atlantic will take on Northwood University in an exhibition contest on Tuesday, Feb. 26th at 7 pm for their next game which will be played at Northwood. The ‘Fish will celebrate Senior Day on Saturday, Mar. 1st at 4 pm in the Rubin Arena.

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