New Head Coach Brandon Giles picked up his first win at Polk State tonight as the Eagles defeated Santa Fe College 60-56 in Winter Haven.
"It's a great feeling to get that first win, hopefully the first of many," said Giles.
"I'm really proud of our guys for buying in and sticking with it. We went through a pretty tough patch there in our first five games of the season without a win.
"Some teams would fold, some teams would say 'the heck with it' and just give up on the year, but I'm very proud of our guys for showing resilience. That shows how tough our team is mentally."
Leading 29-27 at halftime, the Eagles took a 48-39 lead with nine minutes to play.
The Saints cut the deficit to 58-56 with 4.2 seconds left on the game clock. After a timeout, they fouled Milz Tatum, who sank two free throws with 2.7 second remaining, giving the Eagles the 60-56 victory.
Bryan Polanco led the Eagles with 18 points and six rebounds.
Stefan Nakic scored 10 points and grabbed four rebounds.
Milz Tatum added 10 points and three assists.
Giles says unselfishness and mutual support made the difference tonight.
"If you saw the energy on our bench, you knew our guys had each other's backs every play no matter if it was something negative," he said.
"All year long we've talked about how we have to be 'Together Winners.'
"We don't just put that on signs in the locker room and on the backs of our shirts. We seriously have to be together winners through hard times and through good times. That takes a great deal of unselfishness, and our guys were unselfish tonight, whether on the floor or on the bench.
"Everybody was engaged, and the big thing on the court was that we took four charges. We haven't done that all year. We've emphasized taking charges and those were winning plays. We've been talking to our team about making winning plays and we did that tonight. "
The Eagles (1-5) head to Panama City for games Thursday, Friday, and Saturday in the Gulf Coast Classic.