Men's Basketball secures state tournament spot, downs Saints 80-61

Men's Basketball secures state tournament spot, downs Saints 80-61

OCALA-The College of Central Florida men's basketball team dominated rival Santa Fe College in all phases of the game in the finals of the Mid-Florida Conference Tournament.

The Patriots never trailed and led by as many as 29 on their way to an 80-61 rout of the Saints on Tuesday night at CF.

With the win, CF qualifies for the NJCAA/FCSAA Region VIII State Tournament for the 10th consecutive season, the third longest streak in the state dating back to the tournament's inception in 1961.

CF (21-7) also defeated SFC for the 21st time in the last 23 meetings and the fifth straight overall. It also marked the second straight season that the Patriots defeated the Saints in the MFC final and the third time since 2011.

Up next for CF will be an opening round state tournament game against St. Petersburg College, the Suncoast Conference champion, on Thursday, March 5 at 1 p.m.

The Patriots won both meetings this season against the Titans, who ascended to as high as No. 3 in the FCSAA Coaches Poll. CF has 10 straight wins over the Titans and is 22-1 against the Suncoast Conference over the last four seasons.

To get another chance at SPC, the Patriots got a complete team effort in dismantling the Saints.

CF had strong outings from Terrell Rogers (17 points, six assists), Brandon Tabb (16 points), Diamante Lewis (13 points) and Miguel Reyes (10 points).

The Patriots made 31-of-69 from the floor, aided by an impressive 10-of-23 effort from beyond the arc. CF also held a 21-2 edge in points off turnovers and a 34-0 advantage in bench scoring. 

The Patriots also outscored the Saints 11-3 in second-chance points and limited them to 38 percent shooting.

CF jumped out to a 14-4 lead and took a 37-19 edge into halftime.

Rogers scored 13 points in the first half, while Lewis added 10.

Allen Baez led SFC with 20 points and Morris Marshall scored 18 to go along with 10 rebounds. 

The win marked the first time that CF has defeated SFC four times in one season.

Unlike the previous two meetings in the conference title game that featured late baskets by CF's Justin Cecil and Rasham Suarez in 2011 and 2014 respectively, this one was a rout quickly. 

Rogers, who averaged 23 points per game in three regular season meetings with SFC, got hot and then dished off to teammates over the final 20 minutes.

On the year in four games against the Saints, Rogers made 23-of-23 from the foul line.

CF also gave a solid effort on Marshall, who scored 33 points in last year's conference title on 7-of-11 shooting from 3-point range. Marshall started off 2-of-11, but did manage to score 13 points after halftime, but by then CF had the game well in hand.