Jerome Clyburn came up big in overtime for the Saints (3-0) on Saturday night against Indian River State College (1-2), scoring six of Santa Fe’s nine points to help secure a victory over the Pioneers. The Saints nearly gave the game away, making only 2-of-6 free throws down the stretch, but were able to come up with two defensive stops in the last 30 seconds to hold on.
“I’m really happy for our guys,” said SF coach Chris Mowry. “The first two games we were solidly in front and this was the first game we have been down late in the game. Our players responded well and came through.”
SF started slow and fell behind early, shooting only 29% in the first half. Indian River led by as many as seven in the first period and took a 28-24 lead into the break.
“We seemed to have a hard time finding a rhythm on offense in the first half,” said Mowry. “A lot of the credit has to go to Indian River, they kept us off balance and played good defense.”
Chad Renfro lit the scoreboard up to start the second half, burying three straight three pointers to give SF a 35-30 advantage. Eddie D’Haiti’s layup seven minutes later at the 10:37 mark pushed the Saints lead to 46-38.
The Pioneers chipped away over the next four minutes and eventually broke through, retaking the lead 55-50 after an 11-0 run.
D’Haiti took over the game for Santa Fe over the last five minutes, scoring ten points, including two free throws with 29 seconds left to send the game to overtime.
In over time, D’Haiti picked up where he left off, opening the scoring with a layup. IRSC answered with five straight points and Clyburn countered right back with six of his own to give SF a 70-68 advantage. After the Pioneers tied it at 70, Marko Djekovic made one of two free throws and the Santa Fe defense came up with two stops to seal the win.
“I told our guys that this may not have been a pretty win, but the important thing is that the scoreboard had Santa Fe ahead at the end of the game,” said Mowry. “We’ll go watch the tape, learn from this and try to get better. This first week we did what we needed to do – win all three games at home.”
D’Haiti led the Saints in scoring with 16 points, Chad Renfro had 15, all on three pointers and Jerome Clyburn had 14. Point guard Marko Djekovic led the team in rebounds with seven and assists with five.
“All three of our guards did a nice job tonight,” Mowry said. “Jerome did a good job pushing the ball, getting us some easy buckets. Chad shot the ball well and gave us a nice spark to start the second half. Marko controlled the tempo for us and spread the ball around to the open shooters. Our post players also played well. Eddie played good minutes off the bench and really made the most of it on both ends of the floor.”
Next up for the Saints is an away game at State College of Florida - Manatee on Tuesday at 7:00pm in Bradenton.
“We have a young team, so this next game will be a challenge going on the road for the first time,” Mowry said. “We will really have to focus and prepare over the next couple days. They are a solid team and will provide a nice early season test for us.”