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Tampa struggles to beat Saint Leo 81-72

Saint Leo must have failed to check the Sunshine State Conferencestandings prior to Wednesday night's game at the University of Tampa.

The Monarchs, entrenched in the SSC cellar without a conference victory all season, were definite underdogs against the Spartans, ranked No. 7 in Division II and tied for the SSC lead. But it wasn't until a 11-2 run by the Spartans midway through the second half that the Spartans finally pulled away for an 81-72 victory.

Drexel Deveaux keyed the Tampa outburst, which saw the Spartans increase a one-point lead with 12:29 remaining to 63-53 in less than 3 1/2 minutes. Deveaux paced the Spartans (21-2, 7-1) with a game-high 35 points. He also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.

Tampa coach Richard Schmidt shook up his starting lineup, relegating regular starters Karel Dopwell and Bryan Williams, No. 2 in Division II in scoring, to the bench. Williams scored 15 points, 11 below his season average. Schmidt was forced to rely on his bench more than usual, as the Spartans experienced early foul trouble.