The Santa Fe Saints scored from the perimeter and the free throw line to beat the Panthers of Palm Beach State 80-73 at the SF gymnasium Friday night.
The Saints jumped out on top 18-4 and maintained a 20-6 lead mid-way through the first half. The Panthers heated up to cut the lead to single digits in the closing minutes, but a 3-pointer by Ryan Leonard put the Saints up 34-24 at the half.
Momentum was back and forth between the two teams in the second half as Noah Thorp hit three consecutive 3-pointers to start things off for the Saints and extend their lead to 43-29 four minutes in.
The Panthers (8-4) capitalized on a couple of dunks and a 3-point play to cut the deficit back to single digits only to see the Saints respond and take their largest lead of the night at 65-45 on Leonard's fourth 3-pointer of the night with 7:40 to play.
Palm Beach took control for the next five minutes, outscoring the Saints 15-4 to make it 69-60 and cut the Saints lead to 71-68 with 56 seconds to play.
"We took a couple quick shots and they took advantage and kept the pressure on us," said SF head coach Chris Mowry. "I'm proud of our guys for playing hard the entire 40 minutes and beating a very good basketball team tonight."
SF made five of six free throws in the last minute to preserve the win.
Leonard led the Saints with 18 points while Thorp scored 17 and Yaw Obeng-Mensah 11. As a team, the Saints nailed nine 3-pointers on the night and were 17 of 21 from the free throw line.
"This was a really good win and it was important to make our free throws," said Mowry. "We kept our composure down the stretch."
The Saints improve to 6-4 on the year with their next game on Wednesday December 4 when they host Polk State College with the tip off scheduled for 7 pm. The SF women's basketball team will host Hillsborough CC Tuesday Dec. 3 at 7:30 pm.
For all SF Athletics schedules, stats and more visit santafesaints.com