Santa Fe Community College (13-6) opened up its home conference schedule with a hard-fought 68-59 win on Saturday against Seminole Community College (12-7), continuing a nine-game win streak.
"Seminole is a quality basketball team," SFCC coach Chris Mowry said. "They've got size, depth and scoring ability, and so for us to win at home against them is a really good win for us."
In a game that was back and forth for much of the first half, strong defense was the key as the Saints held the Raiders to 35 percent shooting from the field and 5-of-21 on 3-point shots.
"I'm very proud of how hard we played," Mowry said. "Defensively, we just worked our tails off. Had we not had the intensity and the effort that we did, it could have been a completely different ballgame."
Freshman forward Marvin Davis lead the way for SFCC with 16 points, while point guard Zach Trapp and forward Sasha Mirosavljev each chipped in 12 points and grabbed 10 rebounds collectively.
Early in the first half, it was Trapp who got the Saints going, nailing a 3-pointer and sinking three free throws after being fouled while trying for another.
SFCC was unable to keep ahead of Seminole for most of the first half, with four lead changes and four ties in the first 13 minutes of the game.
But another 3-pointer from Trapp made the score 26-23 with seven minutes to go in the half, giving SFCC a lead it would not relinquish.
Freshmen guards Blake Hyden and Roderick Emanuel capped a strong finish to the half for the Saints, with Hyden hitting a 3-pointer and Emanuel sinking a shot with five seconds left, which gave SFCC a 10-point halftime lead.
The Saints would stretch the margin to 14 points in the second half, but allowed Seminole to narrow the gap repeatedly. At one point, Seminole pulled within three points in large part because of untimely turnovers and shooting troubles.
SFCC committed 18 turnovers overall and shot just 36.8 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from the arc in the second half.
"It wasn't pretty," Mowry said. "We had to battle on every possession both defensively and offensively. We'd get ahead of ourselves and we had some bad turnovers, and we weren't able to get down the floor in transition.
"In this game, when it's so hard to score, you need to take care of the ball, and that's probably the only thing I was a little disappointed in was the 18 turnovers."
Despite their troubles handling the ball, the Saints dominated the boards and played pressure defense, racking up 45 rebounds to Seminole's 32 and coming up with 11 steals and four blocks.
Mowry said he was proud of the way his inexperienced team - two are sophomores, and the rest are freshmen - kept their composure despite the offensive miscues.
"We're still really young," he said. "We still have to learn how to value each possession in a game that's a grind-it-out game, and that's what it was today. But it was just a really good team effort."