By ROD GIPSON
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 12, 2001
TAMPA -- A career night from Jessie McDowell helped UT beat Saint Leo 79-65 Wednesday to keep the Spartans perfect in Sunshine State Conference play and continue their best start in team history.
McDowell, a sophomore, had a career-high 28 points with 15 rebounds while junior Nichole Blair had 12 points and freshman guard Yushonda Morse added 10.
UT led for most of the game by at least 15 points and never less than 10 and is off to its best start ever at 12-2 overall and 2-0 in the SSC.
The Spartans are tied atop the league with Florida Southern (12-2, 2-0) and Rollins (13-1, 2-0) and begin a three-game league road swing Saturday at Florida Southern.
That's followed by games at Barry (Jan. 20) and at Florida Tech (Jan. 24). The Spartans return home Jan. 27 to host Rollins.
"We're playing with more intensity and making every game count," UT coach Tom Mosca said. "We're better at this point in the season than we were last year at this time. We are off to a good start in conference play."
MEN'S BASKETBALL: The Spartans, 12-2 and 1-1 in SSC play, are among the leaders in several categories.
At 22.8, the Spartans are tops in the league in average margin of victory. They are second with 86 points a game, and their .498 field-goal percentage is first.
Also, UT is first in field goal percentage allowed and three-pointers allowed. SWIMMING: The men and women's teams, still fresh from second-place finishes in their tri-meets against LSU and Ouachita Baptist, face Emory at 10 a.m. Saturday. Against LSU and Ouachita, the men got first-place finishes from Steve Foster (200 backstroke), Jim Kiner (200 breaststroke) and the 400 free relay team of Foster, Jeff Gilwreath, Phil Murray and Thomas Lowenthal. BASEBALL: The Spartans are ranked fifth in the preseason poll.
The Spartans, 45-12 a season ago and Sunshine State Conference champs, were the highest ranked of three SSC teams in the poll. Florida Southern is sixth and Rollins is 25th.
Last season, the Spartans finished the year ranked 12th and come into this season with nine returning seniors for first-year coach Joe Urso.
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