A sluggish effort and a feisty opponent almost combined to hand the Patriots their second home loss of the season Saturday night. But a 20-point effort from Justin Cecil and a few timely jumpers delivered a 79-76 Patriots victory over State College of Florida (Manatee) in day one of the JuCo Shootout.
Sophomore forward Cecil made 4 of 9 from 3-point range and added 6 rebounds, while Ricardo Ratliffe finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Ratliffe struggled with turnovers amid the Manatees' rugged interior defense, but made up for it with 7 offensive boards and a 7-for-11 showing at the line.
The Patriots (10-3) hit 43 percent of their 3-pointers in the first half, keeping them afloat as the rest of their game struggled to catch up. CF turned the ball over 17 times but forced SCF into 19 in a chaotic, scrappy game on both ends of the court. The Manatees threatened throughout the second half but never drew closer than the final three-point deficit.
The Shootout resumes with five more games Sunday. The Patriots take on Palm Beach at 8 p.m.