The Saint Leo University (SLU) men’s basketball team’s late-season surge ended with a 61-56 loss to Florida Tech in the first round of the NCAA Division II tournament in Huntsville, Ala. on March 10.
The Lions (18-12) still managed to make the tournament for the first time in program history. It is also the first time in 14 years SLU has finished a season with a winning record.
The postseason run comes in Lance Randall’s first year as coach. His squad started 9-10, but ran off a nine-game winning streak, the longest in program history, to make the Sunshine State Conference (SSC) tournament finals.
Randall was named the SSC Coach of the Year, while junior guards Trent Thomas and Marcus Ruh both earned first-team conference honors.
SLU had an eight-point lead in the second half against SSC rival Florida Tech (23-6), but the Panthers fought back to take the lead for good with 1:25 left.
Thomas had a team-high 28 points, including six 3-pointers. Forward Shaun Adams scored 10, while fellow forward Tom Neary blocked 10 shots and pulled down six rebounds.