CF Men's Basketball defeats Santa Fe

OCALA- After allowing 52 points in the opening half to rival Santa Fe, the College of Central Florida men's basketball team picked up its defense to back the offense.

The Patriots maintained a first-place tie in the Mid-Florida Conference with a 97-87 win over the Saints.

CF, winners of five straight games, swept the season series with SFC and downed the Saints for the 20th time in the last 22 meetings dating back seven seasons.

Up next for the Patriots (21-7, 6-1) is a key home game with co-MFC leader Daytona State on Wednesday night at 8 p.m.

In order to keep a first place tie, CF held the Saints to a 1-of-10 effort from 3-point range and 26 percent overall shooting after halftime.

SFC shot 57 percent overall in the first half and 5-of-8 from 3-point range and led by as many as 11 points, but CF battled back.

The Patriots, who held the Saints to an 0-for-21 effort from 3-point range the last time the teams faced off, used their pressure and superior depth to wear down SFC.

Terrell Rogers led CF with 29 points, while Barrington Alston scored a career-high 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds.

Devaughn Jenkins came off the bench and contributed 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Patriots. Jenkins scored eight straight points late in the first half to help CF regain the lead from SFC after its fell behind by 11 earlier.

Brandon Tabb added 14 points and Diamante Lewis scored 10.

For the game, CF made 35-of-67 shots and 22-of-27 from the free throw line.

Rogers made a 3-pointer with 15:55 left to start a 7-0 run that gave the Patriots the lead for good.

CF made 4-of-7 shots from 3-point range in the second half and outscored the Saints 48-35 after halftime.

The Patriots finished the game with a 34-4 edge in bench scoring and added 21 points off 17 turnovers by the Saints.

SFC's Allen Baez scored a game-high 36 points, keyed by 17-of-19 free throw shooting. Morris Marshall scored 16 for the Saints, while Jaquel Taft finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds.

The Saints made 35-of-42 free throws in the contest.

CF, meanwhile, finished with a 41-39 rebounding edge and assisted on 18-of-35 made field goals.

Now, the Patriots can turn their attention to Daytona, the defending MFC champion and only team other than CF to win the league over the past six seasons.

So far this season, the road team has won both meetings, with CF winning the last time by 21 in Volusia County.

After that, the Patriots will finish up with FSC-Jacksonville on the road next Saturday.

The winner of the MFC receives an automatic bid to the FCSAA/NJCAA Region VIII Tournament, while the runner-up in the regular season will have to participate in the conference tournament.

If two teams tie for the conference title, they both qualify and there will not be a conference tournament. The teams would be seeded at state by head-to-head results.