Patriots down Saints, open up conference 1-0

Patriots down Saints, open up conference 1-0

OCALA-- With the game on the line, the College of Central Florida men's basketball team turned to its defense.

The Patriots (16-6, 1-0) held rival Santa Fe without a field goal for a span of nearly seven minutes and earned a 61-56 win in the Mid-Florida Conference opener for both teams.

Amir Warnock's jumper with 6:24 remaining gave CF the lead for good and sparked an 8-0 run that lifted the hosts' to their 17th win in the last 19 meetings with SFC.

CF, winners of five straight games overall, have now won six straight conference openers dating back to 2010.

Terrell Rogers shook off a 1-of-10 start in the first half to score 15 of his team-high 19 points after halftime.

Miguel Reyes scored 11 of his 13 points in the first half, while Diamonte Lewis scored all 11 of his points after halftime.

Reyes made 3-of-5 from 3-point range in the early going, as CF built a 20-8 lead, before Santa Fe held the Patriots to one field goal over the final eight minutes.

During that span, CF was outscored 18-3 and went into halftime down 26-23.

From there, the Saints (12-8, 0-1) opened up as much as a five-point lead in the second half, but CF battled back and regained the lead at 43-42 on a pair of free throws by Rogers with 11:45 left.

The Patriots would then hold SFC scoreless for nearly seven minutes and Rogers scored four points during the game-changing 8-0 run.

Rogers and Allen Costley finished with four assists for CF, while Reyes added three.

CF was outrebounded 49-42, but limited SFC's Brandon Williams to just two rebounds in the second half after he had 10 over the opening 20 minutes, including six on the offensive end. 

Rogers, Reyes and Barrington Alston, who scored eight points in the win, finished tied for team-high honors with five rebounds.

The Patriots shook off a 25-percent shooting effort in the first half with a 15-of-31 mark after halftime. 

CF held SFC to 31.9 percent shooting overall, including a 3-of-21 start from 3-point range until the final minute when Wyoming signee Morris Marshall got hot.

Marshall, who scored 33 points in last year's conference championship game against CF, drilled three straight 3-pointers from NBA range, the last which cut the margin to 59-56 with 1.4 seconds left.

Reyes, though, clinched the win for CF with a pair of free throws. 

The Patriots will return to action on Wednesday night when they host defending conference champion Daytona State at 7:30 p.m.

CF won the lone meeting between the two schools in Ocala last season. The Patriots haven't lost to DSC at home since 2010.

Daytona opened up conference play with a 30-point win over FSC-Jacksonville on Saturday.