By Brandon Surber
GAINESVILLE- It was a combination of defense, shooting, and team basketball that gave the College of Central Florida men’s basketball team the upper hand Saturday afternoon.
The Patriots, who scored the first seven points of the game and never trailed by a single point throughout the contest, dominated their conference rivals Santa Fe 71-51 on the road.
Sophomore guard Terrell Rogers was a scoring machine, leading the Patriots with 21 points, while shooting a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line and 50 percent from beyond the arc.
“We came out strong defensively from the start and it lasted the whole game,” said Rogers.
Amir Warnock dominated the paint with 12 points, teammates Diamante Lewis contributed eight points and Brandon Tabb added a pair of three-pointers.
The Patriots made 6-of-15 from the three and shot an overall 52 percent from the floor.
“We ran a different defense. We switched it up and ran what you call a triangle and two, which is way different than a man to man,” said Tim Ryan, Patriot’s Head Coach. “A triangle two, three guys play a zone and two guys play man to man. They’re very dominated by three players on their team. So when one of their three came out of the game we ran that and went straight into our defense.”
Defense played a huge role in the win against the Saints. Previously on January 17, the Patriots hosted Santa Fe at home and held them to only scoring 56 points in the game.
With exceptional defense of play, the Patriots kept the Saints to only 51 points and forced a total of 15 turnovers. Santa Fe shot 19-of-55 from the field, resulting as 34 percent on the day and made only 13-of-23 shots from the charity stripe.
Aside from the Saint’s off day of shooting, their leading scorer Morris Marshall, who is verbally committed to Wyoming, was put on lock down by Patriot’s sophomore guard Diamante Lewis who only allowed Marshall to score 10 points.
“I learned from Coach Tito, who is a great scout,” said Lewis. “I knew I had to contest every shot he took.”
With this win, the Patriots improve to 18-7 overall and 3-1 in conference play. To start the month of February, CF will travel on the road to face Daytona State College on Wednesday, February 4 at 8 p.m.
On Saturday February 7, the Patriots will return to Ocala to host Florida State College of Jacksonville at 7:30pm. From here on out, every game is a conference game and they are all must wins.
With the state tournament creeping around the corner, Ryan explained what this win against Santa Fe meant to his team.
“It’s certainly a big plus and we still have a long way to go, but it’s big because what it does, it gives us an advantage right now,” said Ryan. “We beat them twice so any tie breaker with Santa Fe, we would have a playoff, but we have one more advantage.”