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LAND O’LAKES — Despite Wesley Chapel’s tenacity, a sluggish offense and persistent foul trouble, Land O’Lakes scratched out a 56-45 win Wednesday, thanks in part to its production at the free-throw line.
“It wasn’t pretty basketball,” Gators coach David Puhalski said. “An ugly win, though, is always better than a pretty loss.”
The first two minutes of nearly every quarter went without a basket from either side, but the Gators (13-7, 6-4) always managed to score first and keep the Wildcats at bay. Land O’Lakes’ 6-0 run at the beginning of the game held up despite flashes from Wesley Chapel.
“Whenever they made a little run, we always managed to battle back,” Puhalski said. “We wound up with a key shot or a key rebound, but we just never really got into a rhythm.”
The only rhythm the Gators seemed to have came from the free-throw line. Land O’Lakes managed 20-of-31 from the line, while the Wildcats (10-11, 5-8) could produce only 17-of-30. Both teams combined for 49 fouls.
Puhalski said his team usually shoots about 54 percent from the line.
The Gators’ Darrell Warren was 11-of-16 from the line and also led Land O’Lakes in total points with 19. Justin Thomopalos was just behind Warren with 14 and managed the Gators’ only two 3-pointers.