Lions fall to top seed Fla Southern in NCAA Tournament

Kevin Capers scored 32 points to lead four Florida Southern players in double figures as the top-seeded and host Moccasins downed the University of North Alabama men's basketball team 94-80 Saturday in the opening round of the NCAA Division II South Region Tournament.

Capers, a sophomore from Winter Haven, Fla., did most of his damage in the second half, scoring 24 points after the break. UNA led 43-39 at the half before the Mocs used a 14-2 run to take control of the game. FSC led by as many as 11 in the second half before holding off a late UNA rally for the win.With the loss, UNA ends its season at 19-9.

"We got beat by a very good team on its home floor tonight," said UNA head coach Bobby Champagne. "We uncharacteristically turned the ball over a lot more than we normally do and had some lapses on defense, but a lot of that was because of how talented Florida Southern is."

After taking the four-point lead at the break, the Lions extended the advantage to 51-44 following a three-point basket by Rashaun Claiborne with 16:24 remaining. The Mocs, however, responded with the 14-2 run, including 10 straight points. UNA answered with a basket by Bruce Adams to make the score 54-53 at the 14:24 mark. Capers then scored eight of the Mocs' next 10 points as the home team extended its lead to 64-56.

Florida Southern led by as many as 11 points late in the game before the Lions made one last push. Trailing 79-68, UNA used an 11-3 run to cut the deficit to just three points in the final 2:04 of play. Claiborne scored 10 points during the run, but the Lions could get no closer than 82-79 after his jumper at the 2:04 mark.

"I kept being aggressive and kept shooting the ball," said Claiborne. "My shots were falling."

Florida Southern was able to regroup and close the game on a 12-1 run with UNA's last points coming with 1:21 to play.

"I am extremely proud of this team," Champagne added. "All year long, they have played hard. We were picked to finished fifth in our conference and to make the NCAA Tournament is a tremendous accomplishment for us. We have a lot of guys coming back and are excited about the future."

Claiborne finished the game with 24 points for North Alabama. DeAndre Hersey added 19 points and eight rebounds while Adams tossed in 24 points on the night. Senior point guard Kaynan Jackson also wrapped up his career at UNA by dishing out six assists with only two turnovers in 28 minutes of playing time.