After an inconsistent first half, the UCF Knights emerged victorious 75-64 at Saturday’s game against William & Mary Tribe.
The UCF Knights (3-0) defeated the William & Mary Tribe (1-2) at the CFE Arena on UCF’s main campus in front of a crowd of more than 4,000, according to UCF Athletics’ Official Basketball Box Score.
Sophomore guard Chance Mcspadden led the Knights with 18 points, followed by senior guard A.J. Davis, who totaled 17 points and 11 rebounds.
The Knights struggled to find their rhythm in the first 20 minutes, shooting a meager 33 percent from the field, according to UCF Athletics’ Official Basketball Box Score.
With less than 15 minutes left on the clock, UCF lost its starting guard Terrell Allen after he fell trying to block a shot and injured his right hip during the first half.
“We’ll know more about the extent of the injury in the next day or so,” UCF Knights head coach Johnny Dawkins said.
The offense told a different story for UCF during the second half. The Knights shot 62 percent from the field in the second half, netting 46 points.
During the Knights’ first possession of the second half, freshman guard Ceasar DeJesus missed a layup, and William & Mary guard Matt Milon hit a 3-pointer to put the Tribe up by four, the team’s largest lead of the game.
Then the Knights sparked a 14-to-3 run and stayed in the lead for the rest of the game.
Mcspadden scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half, and Davis scored 11 of his 17 points in the second half as well.
A 3-pointer from William & Mary guard Connor Burchfield cut the Knights’ lead to five points with seven minutes left.
UCF went on a 12-4 run capped by a 3-pointer from Davis, causing the crowd to erupt in a wave of applause and forcing an opponent timeout.
“I thought A.J. played with a lot of poise tonight and did a good job of leading the young players for us,” Dawkins said.
Junior center Tacko Fall added 13 points, seven rebounds and a block during his season debut for the Knights; Fall missed the first two games of the season due to a hip injury.
UCF’s younger players have to start adjusting to Fall’s 7-foot-6 commanding presence, and Fall’s absence made it difficult to do so, Dawkins said.
Dawkins said a center doesn’t get open easily, but Fall can because of his size.
“I saw my players do a double-take twice during the second half when he was open, so I started laughing,” Dawkins said.
The Knights’ defense was impressive as they held their opponents to a steady 35 percent shooting.
“We won this game because of how we defended,” Dawkins said.
William & Mary shot 49 free throws in the first two games of the season, but shot only seven free throws during the game on Saturday, according to the team’s official website,
“That’s always a big emphasis of ours,” Davis said. “Play without fouling.”
The Knights will look keep their perfect record as they enter the AdvoCare Invitational tournament against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex this Thursday at 6 p.m. in Orlando.