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CF drops second straight home game
January 12, 2014By Richard Burton of COLLEGE OF CENTRAL FLORIDA
For the first time since the 2008-2009 season, the College of Central Florida men’s basketball team has lost consecutive home games.
The Patriots rallied from a 23-point deficit to take the lead late, but were hit with a 13-5 run to close the game and fell to Polk State by a 72-65 score on Saturday night.
CF (15-4) trailed by 23 in the first half and was down by 20 with 19:12 remaining, before it going behind Rodell Wigginton, who scored all 20 of his points in the second half.
Wigginton scored six points during a 12-0 run to get CF started after it fell down by 20.
The Eagles (8-10) then saw CF battle back and take its first lead of the game on a free throw by Cody Russell with 8:23 left.
CF took its biggest lead of the game on a basket by Javonte Douglas with 4:36 at 60-57, before Polk responded with a 7-0 run.
One of the key shots during the run was a 3-pointer by Kareem Harris, who knocked down 6-of-8 from long distance on his way to a 20-point night.
The Patriots got to within 64-63 with 2:19 remaining on a 3-pointer by Rasham Suarez at the 2:19 mark, but Polk scored six straight and led by seven with 54 seconds on the clock.
The Eagles left the door open for CF by missing five consecutive free throws, but the hosts couldn’t make another comeback.
For the game, CF made just 3-of-23 from 3-point range and 25-of-66 overall.
Wigginton made 9-of-16 shots on the way to his 20-point night. Chris Bryant added 12 points and nine rebounds for the Patriots, while Douglas scored nine points, grabbed five rebounds and dished out four assists.
Polk finished 24-of-45 from the floor and 7-of-14 from 3-point range.
The Eagles won despite being outrebounded 44-29 by the Patriots.
Nigel Grant added 16 points for Polk, while Lavell White and Shavanno Cooper scored 12 and 10 points respectively.
Had CF been able to hold on for the win, it would have matched the largest rally for a win in the Tim Ryan-era.
Last season, the Patriots rallied from 23-points down to knock off State College of Florida-Manatee on their way to the NJCAA National Championship.
Earlier in the year, CF was able to battle back from down 16 on its way to an overtime win over St. Petersburg College.
This time around, though, it was unable to make the plays late for the victory.
The loss for CF was its first against Polk since a 76-68 defeat in overtime on December 6, 2008.
CF’s last defeat to the Eagles was part of its last multiple-game losing streak.
The Patriots followed that up with a home loss to the now-defunct Seminole State program, but to their credit, rallied with nine straight wins in Mid-Florida Conference play behind Ricardo Ratliffe.
CF will return home on January 22 for its conference home opener against Daytona State.
The Patriots, who saw their 33-game home winning streak snapped in their last home outing against Palm Beach State, saw its four-game winning streak over the Eagles snapped.
Polk, a member of the Suncoast Conference, ended a string of 13 straight wins for CF against the conference over the past two seasons.
To get there, the Eagles did it with defense early and outstanding outside shooting, as they controlled the tempo in the halfcourt.
The Patriots didn’t convert a field goal for a span of 5:10 and fell behind 14-3 at the 14:09 mark of the first half.
From there, Polk got three consecutive 3-pointers from Kareem Harris and went up 27-7, before it pushed its lead to 23 with 6:31 remaining before halftime.
CF, which missed its first 11 shots from 3-point range, finally got one to fall with 51 seconds left in the first half, as freshman guard Austin Bowman hit one, but the Eagles went to the break up 38-20.
For the half, the Patriots made just 7-of-27 shots (25.9 percent) and 1-of-12 (8.3 percent) from 3-point range.
Polk, meanwhile, made 15-of-24 shots (62.5 percent) and 6-of-11 (54.5 percent) from 3-point range.
The Patriots turned the ball over nine times and the Eagles were able to score 13 points off their miscues.
Harris scored 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting from 3-point range.