Eagles Stage Huge Comeback, Fall to College of Central Florida, 68-60
WINTER HAVEN – The Eagles rallied to cut a 23-point first-half deficit to five points in the second half; however, it was not enough, as the Polk State College men's basketball team (12-6) fell to fourth-ranked College of Central Florida (18-2) Saturday, 68-60, at the Winter Haven Health Center.
Trailing 40-19 at the half, Eagle freshman Bernard Samuel (Charleston, S.C.) led the charge with five three-pointers after the break for a game-high 20 points.
"It seemed like we were very tentative," said Polk State coach Matt Furjanic of the first half. "We didn't hit our outside shots or get the rebounds. We had trouble just getting back on defense those last three or four minutes. We challenged the guys in the second half. I think it was huge how our guys responded and made a game of it."
Polk shot just 25 percent in the first half, but hit 47 percent in the second half, including six three-pointers -- five by Samuel and one by freshman Nafis Walker (Philadelphia).
Polk managed to close the gap to within five points twice but couldn't hold on against an athletic Patriots' squad.
"We can't take anything for granted," Furjanic said. "We've got to use this as a learning experience."
Patriots center Eugene McCrory paced College of Central Florida with 18 points and six rebounds. Teammate Will Saunders added 16 points and five boards.
The Eagles continued to see good bench play as the second string scored 22 points.
The loss halted a five-game win streak for the Eagles, while the Patriots extended their win streak to 11 consecutive victories.
Polk hosts the Northwood University junior varsity Wednesday, Jan. 16 at 7 p.m.