Clock Strikes 12 on Men’s Basketball’s Cinderella Run; Fighting Knights Fall in NCAA South Region Final

Clock Strikes 12 on Men’s Basketball’s Cinderella Run; Fighting Knights Fall in NCAA South Region Final

Lakeland, Fla.- Lynn University's sixth-seeded men's basketball team fell 88-80 in the NCAA South Region Tournament Finals on Tuesday night to top-ranked Florida Southern (33-1). Senior Aaron Harrison and junior Fred Landers were both named to the All-Tournament Team as the duo put together a few of their best offensive performances of the season during the tournament. Harrison had 20 points in the loss while Landers contributed 13 points and nine rebounds falling just shy of a double-double.

Florida Southern lit up the scoreboard first on a jumper by Kevin Capers two seconds into the game but it was Lynn who scored five-consecutive points on a three-pointer by Fred Landers and a fast-break slame dunk by Aaron Harrison to take a 5-2 lead. Ben Berry hit his first trey of the game minutes later and the Fighting Knights led 12-8 at the first media timeout. Florida Southern took its first lead of the game since the opening basket on a trey to have a two-point advantage, 14-12, over Lynn. 

Back-to-back layups by Landers and Harrison made it a 16-14 Fighting Knights lead with 12:55 to go. At the eight minute media timeout Lynn trailed 28-23. FSC took a nine point lead with 4:40 to go but Lynn would make it a six point game quickly. The Blue & White struggled through a two and a half minute scoring drought but Harrison ended the drought with a jumper in the paint with 49 seconds to go making it a five-point game. Florida Southern held on to lead 42-34 at halftime. 

The Fighting Knights shot 36.8 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes of play. Landers had a team-high 10 points and six rebounds in the first half. Lynn won the rebound battle 27-22 with 12 offensive boards. FSC shot 40.5 percent from the field and connected on 9-of-12 free throws in the half. 

Lynn got the game within five points on a slam dunk by Cory Thomas at 16:04 but FSC would pull ahead by 10 two minutes later on a trey from Dylan Travis. Every time the Fighting Knights would get on a run, Travis was there knocking down trey after trey to keep the Blue & White just out of reach. Florida Southern took its largest lead of the game, 69-57, with 9:01 left in regulation. A dunk by David Johnson at 5:18 would cut the deficit to four, 73-69, for Lynn but multiple trips to the charity stripe sealed and eight-point victory for the Mocs.

Johnson had a team-high 15 points in the second stanza while Berry and Harrison contributed 14 and 12 points respectively. Lynn improved to shoot 51.4 percent from the field but was once again troubled at the free throw line making just three of eight attempts. FSC edged the Blue & White 19-18 in boards and shot an impressive 90.0 percent from the charity stripe. 

Overall, Lynn shot 44 percent from the field and 32 percent from three-point range. Berry had a team-best 22 points sinking four treys and pulling down nine rebounds just falling shy of a double-double. Johnson had 18 points for the Blue & White marking the fourth member of Lynn's squad to score in double figures. 

This season, Lynn posted its best record in nine years and reached the NCAA Division II Sweet Sixteen for the third time in program history. The Fighting Knights graduate All-South Region Second Team selection Aaron Harrison, Cory Thomas, Michael Birts and TJ Bullock but return All-SSC Newcomer Ben Berry along with Landers, Russell Wilson and seven other members from this season's squad. 

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