The Knights continue their winning streak with a close 67-63 victory over the UMass Minutemen with four different players scoring in double figures.
UMass came out of the half with guns blazing, shooting and pressuring to their largest lead of four, with 4:54 remaining in the game. The game was eventually tied at 63 with less than a minute on the clock.
But thanks to late game heroics by senior Shaheed Davis on a tip-in bucket with 2.4 seconds remaining, the Knights took a two-point lead. Davis sealed the deal at the free-throw line with two more clutch shots to put the Knights up by four.
"When I was on the bench, I made two bad plays. I took a bad shot and turned the ball over so the whole time on the bench I was just thinking if coach gives me another chance I'm going to make an impact on the game, " Shaheed said.
Redshirt sophomore A.J. Davis had his complete game on display, offensively and defensively. Davis tallied 14 points, five rebounds and two steals while contributing in holding the Minutemen's leading scorer, sophomore Donte Clark, to just 12 points on 2-of-7 from the field.
"Our defense from the beginning shook those guards. UMass has three great guards … we did a great job getting out there making sure they had no easy looks," A.J. said.
UMass came into the game shooting 39 percent from beyond the arch, but the Knights held them to an abysmal 13 percent. The Knights' suffocating defense held the Minutemen to 31 percent from the field while forcing them to commit nine turnovers.
The Minutemen came in holding their foes to 38-of-137, 28 percent from three, which is the second lowest in the Atlantic 10 Conference. UCF must not have gotten the memo, as they shot 38 percent from the field and 47 percent from three point range in the first half.
The second half belonged to the UMass Minutemen as they won the half 38-30. Fortunately, the Knights were able to overcome the surge from the Minutemen late in the second half with key defensive stops and rebounds down the stretch.
"Just 'cause we had a lead doesn't mean anything now. It's a about coming down to a three-minute game. I think that showed great composure for our team tonight in being able to finish," head coach Donnie Jones said.
The Knights will play their third game in a row at the CFE Arena against the FAU Owls (1-5) Saturday at 7 p.m.
Christopher Davis is a Contributing Writer for the Central Florida Future.