Men’s basketball finish runner-up at SSC tournament

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Nicholas Merritt

Florida Southern College’s men’s basketball program competed in the Sunshine State Conference (SSC) Championship game for the third time in the past three years.

Unlike the last two seasons, the Mocs did not succeed in becoming conference champions after their loss against the Saint Leo Lions in the championship game with a score of 83-70.

The Mocs had a rough start to the season, largely with games being postponed. The 6th and 7th of the first 8 games on the schedule were postponed, in part due to one of the teams having to quarantine due to COVID protocols.

Once the competitions got going in mid-to-late February, the Mocs had a road-heavy schedule, traveling to Palm Beach Atlantic three times, and to Barry and Saint Leo twice throughout the season.

In the SSC Championship tournament bracket, the Mocs were the 4th seed. They knocked off 5th seeded Rollins College at home and top-seeded Palm Beach Atlantic on the road before falling to 2nd seeded Saint Leo.

“We just grinded and clawed our way to that championship game [Sunday] is definitely what I am most proud of,” head coach Michael Donnelly said.

During the game, the Mocs found themselves down 41-35 at halftime. The Mocs would gain a two-point lead early in the second half, however Saint Leo would pull away, scoring 13 straight points.

The second half deficit proved to be too much for the Mocs to overcome as Saint Leo went on to win their first SSC Men’s Basketball Championship in program history.

“It was disappointing, because I knew how badly our guys wanted to win a third straight conference tournament championship,” Donnelly said.

Senior Jalyn Hinton led the Mocs with 24 points, making 12 of 16 shots from the court. He credits his team in assisting him lead the team in points scored that game.

“It’s always a team effort,” Hinton said. “No matter how much individual success anybody could have, it’s always a team thing. It’s never something that you do by yourself.”

Hinton was named to the All-SSC Tournament Team for the second straight season. He was one of two Mocs to earn the honor this season, with E.J. Dambreville.

“It was great to see that I produced in some kind of way that like that recognition despite not winning, which I pride myself on being able to lead as a team captain as a senior,” Hinton said.

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