SAINT LEO, Fla. -- Barry University men's basketball team lost to Saint Leo, 78-58, Saturday, quickly halting the rush of a big win over a second ranked opponent three three days earlier. It set the Bucs back to a 15-5 overall, 6-5 Sunshine State Conference record.
The 20-point verdict was the largest margin of defeat the Buccaneers suffered this year, but the final score wasn't completely indicative of the competitiveness between the two teams, even with Barry playing in catch-up mode the entire way. It was the second loss to the Lions the Buccaneers suffered this season.
In a game where the lead changed hands three times and experienced four ties, Barry found itself down nine entering the second half. The Bucs used a 13-6 run over the first 6:47 of the second half, drawing within two on Savad Garner's bucket. Saint Leo ran its lead back to nine with 7:45 left to play before the Buccaneers scored the next six points to cut it to a three-point game on Yunio Barrueta's three-point play 36 seconds later.
Yet despite three second half triples by Arie Williams and a basket by Barrueta at the 4:07 mark to keep the Buccaneers within, 60-55, the wheels came off in the final 3:48, and Saint Leo ran away with it.
Barry shot 36.8 percent, marking the third game in the past four the Bucs have shot under 40 percent. Saint Leo, which drew even with the Bucs in the SSC standings and own an 18-6 overall, 6-5 league mark, hit 43.6 percent of its shots, including a 12 of 24 second half performance.
Lions coach Lance Randall said Barry is the playing the best basketball in the league now, and possess the most potent collection of offensive talent throughout the SSC. But it's no consolation for a team with unlimited potential. And building off Wednesday's big win would've created even greater momentum for this resilient Buccaneers team, which thrives at home and on neutral floor settings.
Williams had 11 points on 3-for-10 shooting, and Barrueta scored 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Garrett Naughton matched a career-high with seven points, all in the first half. Juan Ferrales had nine points and six rebounds, and Deric Hill was limited to eight points, two assists and two steals, fouling out for the sixth time, including four in the past five games.
Saint Leo's Ron Foxx had 21 points and seven rebounds, and Jerrell Harris 10 points and seven boards.
The Buccaneers were credited with 10 assists and whistled for 20 turnovers, while getting outrebounded 38-34. Barry was 6 of 25 from long range, and attempted 14 free throws to Saint Leo's 26.
The Bucs will play at Palm Beach Atlantic Wednesday in a non-conference game before hosting three straight league games at Health & Sports Center, beginning with next Saturday's 4 p.m. tip-off against Eckerd.