Saints pull off 67-61 upset of #1 Central Florida; Chris Mowry wins 200th game
GAINESVILLE – Bobby Hunter scored 28 points and Takija Knight came up big in the second half Saturday afternoon to lead the Santa Fe Saints (16-12, 4-3 MFC) to a 67-61 upset of the FCSAA #1/NJCAA #5 Central Florida Patriots (25-3, 6-1 MFC). The win was the 200th of SF Head Coach Chris Mowry’s 10 year career at Santa Fe. The loss snapped CF’s 18 game winning streak, the second longest in the country this year.
“Getting 200 wins is a real testament to the assistant coaches and players I’ve had over the last ten years,” said Mowry. “You win because you have good players. Our success is a reflection of the talented athletes I’ve had the privilege of coaching here at Santa Fe. I hope to keep it going for many more years.”
The Saints held the nation’s seventh highest scoring team to 30 points below their average and just 38% shooting. Santa Fe outscored the Patriots 23-13 at the free throw line and held a team averaging six three pointers a game to just three.
“This is an exciting win for our players,” said Mowry. “I’m very proud of the effort today. CF is an extremely talented team that can beat anyone in the country on any given night. We played physical and were able to get them off balance just enough.”
Central Florida got off to a hot start and led 10-3 five minutes into the game. Just when it looked like the Patriots may run away with it, the Saints settled in and ended the first half on a 10-4 run to take a 35-29 lead at the break.
“Our press was very effective for us today,” said Mowry. “Even when Central Florida broke it, they were taking some quick shots and were turning it over much more than they usually do.”
Santa Fe led for the first nine minutes of the second half but a 6-0 run capped by a Rodell Wigginton dunk tied the game at 46-46 with 11:13 to play. Four straight points by Bobby Hunter gave the Saints a 50-46 lead but five minutes later the Patriots again tied the score at 56-56 after a 10-6 run.
Takija Knight came up huge for the Saints making two tough layups on back to back possessions to move SF ahead 62-58, a lead they would not relinquish. Chad Milliken, Bobby Hunter and Roody Saint-Germain combined for four free throws down the stretch and the Santa Fe defense made some key stops to seal the victory against the state’s #1 team.
“Defensively CF tried to take Bobby out of the game,” said Mowry. “We were patient and didn’t rush it, made them guard us and took good shots. All year we’ve been good at getting to the free throw line and tonight was no exception.”
Hunter led all scorers with his 28 points, 14 of which came at the free throw line. Knight had 11 points (nine in the second half) and seven rebounds and Deonte Moore had 10 points. The Patriots had just one player in double figures with Eugene McCrory’s 15 point, 11 rebound effort.
“Takija did a really nice job at both ends of the floor tonight and came up with some big baskets when we needed them,” said Mowry. “Every one of our guys that played tonight did something positive to contribute to this win. It was a true team effort in every essense. Hopefully we can build off this win and use the momentum to finish up strong as we head in to the Mid-Florida Conference tournament.”
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