Polk State earned its first Suncoast Conference victory tonight, defeating St. Petersburg College 70-67 in overtime in Winter Haven.
With the Eagles trailing 57-55 with three minutes left in regulation, Milz Tatum made two free throws to tie the score. When both teams failed to score again, the game went to overtime.
Milz Tatum brings the ball upcourt against the Titans. His free-throws sent the game into OT, and he finished with 12 points. (Photo by Tom Hagerty, Polk State.)
The Titans looked like they might win, leading 67-63 with 1:21 left in OT, but the Eagles rallied for seven unanswered points and the victory.
First Walt Covington hit a three-pointer with 45 seconds on the clock, cutting the deficit to 67-66.
Then with four seconds remaining, Covington made a reverse layup to give the Eagles a 68-67 lead.
After St. Pete turned the ball over, the Titans fouled Bryan Polanco, who sank a pair of free throws with 2.6 seconds left, putting the Eagles up 70-67.
When the Titans missed a three-point shot at the buzzer, the Eagles had the win.
"It's about urgency," said Head Coach Brandon Giles. "We were down late in OT and when our guys saw that ball they went after it.
"My hat goes off to St. Pete. They're a very tough to compete against, but our guys responded."
Kadeem Webb smiles as the Eagles take the lead in OT. He scored 11 points and made three three-pointers. (Photo by Tom Hagerty, Polk State.)
"We talk about responding every single day in practice," he said.
"Basketball's a game of runs, so when they make their run we have to step up and respond. We always talk about making winning plays and we did a great job sharing the basketball tonight, making winning basketball plays instead of those 'home-run' plays."
Giles took pride in his team's attitude and energy tonight.
"Overall it was a great team win with great energy on the bench," he said. "I'm very proud of our team.
"We have a resilient group of guys here. When you think about what we've gone through as far as wins and losses, they still come in and give great effort and I commend our assistant coaches too for all their efforts.
"I'd also like to recognize Bryan Polanco. He was big-time tonight. We took him out of the starting lineup just to give us a different look, and he came off the bench and responded. Walt Covington and Kareem-Chever-Moore were also great in this win."
Bryan Polanco takes aim at the free-throw line. He sank two key free-throws in OT and finished with 12 points in a 70-67 win over St. Pete. (Photo by Tom Hagerty, Polk State.)
Covington led all scorers with 18 points. He made three three-pointers and grabbed two rebounds.
Polanco finished with 12 points, six rebounds, and five assists. He went 10-for-11 at the free-throw line.
Tatum also scored 12 points, making five of six free throws and seven assists.
Kadeem Webb sank three three-pointers, finishing with 11 points.
Bane Labudovic tallied six points and six rebounds.
The Eagles (4-17, 1-3) travel to Tampa on Wednesday for a 7:30 p.m. Suncoast Conference game against Hillsborough Community College.