The Knights trailed by just one point at halftime, but the Cincinnati Bearcats came out of intermission competing for every loose ball, grabbing 16 offensive boards and holding UCF to just 38 percent shooting from the field, resulting in a 69-51 road victory for Cincinnati.
“They were making some baskets and we just couldn’t get on our run,” redshirt sophomore forward A.J. Davis said. “By the time we got it going, the margin was just bigger … they did a good job of keeping the lead.”
UCF seemed to fall apart in the second half trailing by the largest deficit of the game, 22 points, with 3:33 left in the game. Free-throws destroyed the Knights in this game as they shot 9-for-19 from the charity-stripe. Junior guard/forward Tanksly Efianayi missing three straight free-throws after being fouled on a three-point attempt, epitomizing the Knights continuous struggles shooting the basketball.
Despite the Knights’ struggle, redshirt junior guard Matt Williams was the Knights’ only consistent source of scoring, tallying 18 of his career-high 24 points in the first half.
“My teammates, they know I can shoot … most of it comes from getting confidence from my teammates, the rest is just preparation,” said Williams.
Davis added 16 points, seven rebounds and three assists in 32 minutes of action.
The Knights found themselves not able to score early on against the Bearcats, shooting 22 percent from the field. However, Williams scored 10 of the team’s first 13 points, to carry them to within one point of the Bearcats, 14-13.
After going down 24-16 with 7:23 remaining, UCF went on an 11-0 run with 3:45 remaining. Following the run and a couple of back-to-back baskets, the Knights trailed Cincinnati by 1, 31-30 at halftime.
“I thought we came out in the first half, played tough, [and] played hard,” head coach Donnie Jones said. “You know we rallied back and got ourselves back into it, but it took so much energy [from] us once we got down in the first half. It’s one of those games where you can’t get frustrated and play one-on-one … but in the second half we got rattled.”
For UCF’s next outing, they will take the road to face-off against Houston on the road at Hofheinz Pavilion, in Houston, Texas at 3 p.m.
Christopher Davis is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future.