Central Florida won the season's first showdown against local rival Santa Fe on Wednesday, notching a gritty 69-66 victory and surviving its second consecutive test from a worthy Mid-Florida Conference foe.
The Patriots (21-4, 3-0), who on Saturday outlasted St. Johns River 110-102 in double overtime, stayed undefeated in MFC play and pushed the Saints (13-9, 1-2) below .500 in the early conference standings. Ricardo Ratliffe posted game-highs of 28 points and 15 rebounds, Josh Proctor had 12 points and 11 rebounds and Justin Cecil added 15 points and 9 rebounds.
Santa Fe took a 29-28 lead into the halftime locker room, moved ahead by as much as eight in the second half and held on to a narrow lead down the stretch. The win came despite subpar shooting from the usually dead-eyed Patriots, who shot 35 percent from the field in the first half and 41 percent for the game. CF also went just 2 for 12 from 3-point range, missing all four of its second-half attempts from deep.
Homecoming Saturday brings yet another formidable opponent in Daytona State, the MFC's other undefeated team entering Wednesday's games. That's a 7:30 p.m. tip, following the women's game.