Central Florida survived a home-court men's basketball scare from visiting Polk State on Monday, finally emerging with a hard-fought 72-68 victory.
The Patriots got all they could handle down the stretch from a relentless Eagles team.
Hunter Williams embarked on a fearless drive to the basket, converted a tough layup while being fouled and converted the free throw to break a 62-62 tie with 3:14 to play. Polk immediately tied it up again with a 3-pointer, then Jernell Hughes hit a free throw to inch the Patriots ahead by a point.
Freshman Jordan Parks responded with a timely end-to-end sequence. He broke up a Polk possession with a steal, then drew a foul on a 3-point attempt and knocked down all 3 free throws, putting CF up 69-65 with under 2 minutes to play.
Polk closed the gap back to a single point with 25 seconds to play. Williams hit a pair of clutch free throws to restore the 3-point lead, and an open Polk look at a potential tying 3-pointer rimmed out to keep the Patriots ahead.
Christian Martinez led the Patriots with 29 points.
After having a 7-game win streak snapped Saturday in Marianna, the Patriots (9-4) began a new one heading into the busiest weekend of its season. CF welcomes Pensacola to town on Friday at 7:30 p.m., the night before hosting the two-day, 10-team Florida Colleges Shootout on Saturday and Sunday.