Patriots upset No. 3 St. Pete

Patriots upset No. 3 St. Pete

OCALA-- The College of Central Florida men's basketball team is on a roll and earning respect.

Brandon Tabb scored 16 of his 21 points in the second half, while Dee Lewis added 20 points, six rebounds and four assists to help the Patriots down St. Petersburg College 75-71 on Wednesday night at Patriot Gym.

CF, which fell out of the state rankings this week, downed the No. 3 team in the state and earned its 10th straight win over the Titans, last year's state runner-up.

"This was a big win for us," said Patriots coach Tim Ryan, whose team defeated the Titans by 12 earlier this season. "St. Pete plays so hard and they are so tough. Even though we've had a nice run against them, all of them have been pretty close.

"I have a lot of respect for their program and their coach (Earnest Crumbley) is a good friend who does a great job."

Barrington Alston (nine points, eight rebounds), Terrell Rogers (eight points), Allen Costley (six points) also contributed for the Patriots in the win.

Alston also played stellar defense on SPC's Maljum McRea (five points), the reigning Suncoast Player of the Year. 

"Barrington set the tone for us early with that dunk (which gave CF a quick 7-0 lead) and the thing that he does best is defend the post," Ryan said. "He was huge for us."

CF (13-6) made 10-of-21 shots from 3-point range and 15-of-19 from the foul line, while SPC struggled to 4-of-17 from 3-point range and 15-of-32 from the stripe.

Tabb led CF's assault  by making 5-of-6 from beyond the 3-point arc and keyed his team's 28-16 edge in bench scoring. 

"Brandon's had two huge games in a row off the bench for us," Ryan said. 

The Patriots took the lead for good on a 3-pointer by Tabb with 7:58 remaining, which was part of a 9-3 run that made the score 66-60.

CF saw SPC (13-4) get as close as three with 12.2 seconds left, but Lewis made a free throw at the 9.8 second mark to push it back to a two-possession game.

The Patriots built as much as a 10-point lead in the first half, but saw the Titans come storming back.

SPC went ahead 21-19 for the first time, however, the Patriots made the plays and went into the locker room ahead 32-29.

From there, Devontae Pratt (all 17 points in the second half), scored 10 points during a 13-2 run to put the Titans ahead 44-37 with 16:11 left.

CF, though, got a 6-0 run keyed by Lewis and regained the advantage with 10:18 left after consecutive 3-pointers by Tabb.

The Patriots return to action on Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. with a visit to Polk State.