A game of huge numbers saw UCF nearly win in double OT, and Rollins is knocked off by Eckerd
When the UCF Knights fell to the UAB Blazers Feb. 24, it was the third time this year they hadn't scored more than 50 points in a game. Three days later, they were at the tail end of a 121-115 shocker that went to triple overtime with the ball in their hands. Then, having engineered the biggest offensive turnaround in back-to-back games all season, they lost again.
"One of these days we'll be able to execute and make shots in the last five minutes that will make a difference," Coach Kirk Speraw said after the team's 53-49 loss to UAB. Three days later, the feeling was different, but the loss remained.
Now the Knights (13-15, 5-9) are looking to pick up the pieces of a season-nearing collapse, having fallen in three straight games against conference foes and plummeting toward the bottom of Conference USA.
In their two most recent losses, the Knights managed to force a tight game into the final minutes.
Against UAB they were down by only 2 points with the ball in their hands when it all fell apart. An inbound pass was picked off by the Blazers' Elijah Millsap, whose outside fast break ended in a dunk that ended the game in an instant.
Having played the entire game within a few points of the second best team in the conference, the Knights watched their shot at an upset collapse in the final eight seconds.
Against Marshall, which at the time was the fourth best team in the 12-team conference, the Knights found themselves immediately embroiled in an offensive slugfest. At the half the Knights were down by 17 points, but rallied back to tie the score on back-to-back 3-pointers by A.J. Rompza and Isaac Sosa.
In overtime, the teams kept up the wild pace of the game, with the Knights nearly pulling off the win in double overtime, but watching as the Thundering Herd caught up with a foul shot and a layup in the final seconds.
By the end of the game only one Knight starter was still available, as a total of six Knights fouled out in the game and the team called on rarely-used reserves. Of those unsung backups, R.J. Scott shined, with seven points in just seven minutes on the floor.
Isaac Sosa managed 20 points in 31 minutes of relief, but even that high score didn't lead the team. That went to Taylor Young, who nailed 23 points, followed by Keith Clanton with a double double 20 points and 12 rebounds. Five Knights would score in the double digits in the win.
The Knights faced East Carolina in their home finale at press time, and will play one more game to close out the season, at 3 p.m. Saturday at Rice.
Rollins Tars are conference co-champions
The No. 13 Tars had already claimed a Sunshine State Conference championship by the time they hit the floor against Eckerd College Feb. 20, but by the time they left, they were one more notch in the 'L' column, and sharing the title instead of owning it outright.
That's because Eckerd dominated in their final shot at sharing the championship, jumping out to a big 20-0 lead to start the game, and never relinquishing it from there. The Tars (22-5, 13-3) would battle back to 63-58, but still took the loss.
Nick Wolf led the team with 27 points and 9 rebounds.
The Tars headed to a showdown against Tampa Wednesday night at press time, but with a win could see a rematch against Eckerd at noon Saturday in Ft. Lauderdale.