WINTER PARK, Fla. – Road wins don’t typically come easy in the Sunshine State Conference, but despite not playing their best game, the third-ranked Nova Southeastern Sharks found a way to get the job done down the stretch en route to an 88-82, come-from-behind win on Saturday against Rollins. The Sharks trailed by as many as 13 in the contest, and by as many as nine in the second half, yet leaned on a balanced attack that included six players in double figures to pull away late and remain perfect on the season.
INSIDE THE MATCHUP:
Score: No. 3 Nova Southeastern 88, Rollins 82
Records: No. 3 Nova Southeastern (14-0, 8-0 SSC), Rollins (7-8, 2-5 SSC)
Location: Alfond Sports Center | Winter Park, Fla.
Get Social: Twitter – @NSU_MBasketball | Instagram – @NSU_MBasketball
HOW IT HAPPENED:
1st Half | With fans disallowed from Saturday’s ball game, NSU lacked a bit of energy in the early going, as the Tars jumped on the Sharks from the opening tip-off. As part of its 61.3 percent shooting effort in the first half, Rollins tallied the game’s first five points before grabbing a 13-4 advantage just over three minutes in. A pair of three-pointers by both Nick Smith and Eddie Puisis trimmed the margin to three with 15:44 remaining, yet the Tars soon rattled off an 11-2 run midway through the half to open up a 13-point cushion after a Cody Potter lay-up. A spark off the bench, though, from the likes of Shane Hunter, Mike Moore and Lukas Speidel helped NSU settle itself and gradually chip away at the lead. Speidel’s triple with 7:33 to play brought the Sharks back to within five before another hit from deep by the junior closed the gap to just two at the 3:12 mark. Still, paced by his game-high 26 points, the Tars used a couple of late buckets by Hutton Yenor to maintain the lead, entering the locker room ahead 51-43.
2nd Half | Despite being down eight at the break, there was a sense that NSU had at least weathered the storm and was just one quick spurt from capturing control of the contest. Like they did just a week prior at Barry, the Sharks fired on all cylinders to start the second half, rattling off a quick 9-0 run to climb in front after Kobe Rodgers buried a triple on a feed from Puisis. However, Rollins answered right back in the form of a 10-0 run to regain a 61-52 advantage with 15:21 showing on the clock. The Sharks still trailed by nine with 11:16 to play until Speidel made a pair of field goals to cut the margin to 68-63. His third three-pointer made it a four-point ball game before a steal and lay-in by Rodgers had the Sharks within one possession still with 8:08 to go. Failing to capitalize on a trio of chances to re-take the lead, NSU finally pulled in front at the 4:42 mark, 73-72, after Speidel found Sekou Sylla for two underneath. The margin was still just one with 2:01 left until a big-time three by Puisis gave the Sharks a bit more breathing room. RJ Sunahara followed with an exclamation-point dunk in the final minute, as NSU survived yet another tough road test.
BEYOND THE BOXSCORE:
- In their last two road games, the Sharks have now outscored their opponents by a combined 104-70 margin in the second half.
- Following an Embry-Riddle loss on Saturday against Barry, NSU now has a 2.5 game lead in the SSC standings.
STATS OF THE NIGHT:
- After allowing the Tars to shoot 61.3 percent from the field in the first half, NSU limited them to just 40.9 percent from the floor in the final 20 minutes.
- The Sharks had six players score in double figures, yet not one recorded more than 15 points. Puisis’ 15 led the way, with Sylla chipping in with 14 of his own.
- Speidel tallied 13 of NSU’s 23 points off the bench.
- NSU turned the ball over just six times on Saturday, while forcing Rollins into 20 turnovers on the defensive end.
- The league leader in assists, Smith finished with another seven helpers in the effort.
NSU will now have a week off before hitting the road to take on Florida Southern next Saturday. For complete coverage of the action, visit the schedule page on NSUSharks.com or follow the Sharks on Twitter @NSU_MBasketball.