The USF Bulls fell to the UCF Knights 71-69 on Saturday night during their first #WarOnI4 matchup this season. *sigh*
UCF opened the game with a three-pointer. Moving along. Guard Payton Banks quickly forced a turnover and layed it in for the USF’s first points of the night. Guard Stephan Jiggetts followed with two threes. OKAY, JIGGS. Meanwhile, the Bulls held the Knights scoreless for nearly five minutes where they went 0-for-5. *insert smirky GIF*
“We competed,” USF head coach Brian Gregory said. “I’m very proud of our guys with the resiliency they showed, coming off of a poor performance the other night.”
A layup by forward Malik Martin capped off an 8-0 run for USF. I would love to get you all really excited here, because they went up 12-5, but the Bulls usually* start the game off well and I don’t want to be premature about it.
*well except for against ECU … and SMU … and, you know what, never mind.
Well the next four minutes were BAD. UCF went on a 7-0 run, USF was scoreless on 0-for-5 shooting, and committed three turnovers. That’s what I get for smirking! Martin ended the pain with a layup.
The following few minutes were neck-and-neck, back and forth, with both teams shooting 33 percent from the field, 5-for-15.
A jumper from forward Isaiah Manderson and another three from Jiggetts put the Bulls up 21-18. Then come the freshmen. Guards Justin Brown and David Collins (who earned his first start of the season) both knocked down a three and gave USF a 27-20 lead with four minutes to play.
“We played with a positive energy the entire night and hopefully we can build off of it,” Gregory said.
With 2:12 to play, guard Henry Beard checked in. Our favorite player on the roster! LET’S GO. With 40 seconds to in the half, Brown knocked down another three and gave the Bulls a 34-27 lead. Come through! And at the buzzer, we got a jumper from Jiggetts. The Bulls held a 36-29 lead going into the locker room. The Knights didn’t hit a field goal in the final three minutes of the half.
“I thought we were tremendous defensively in the first half,” Gregory said. “We really shared the ball well and with that got off to a good start and had the lead at halftime.”
UCF (13-6, 4-3 AAC) grabbed the first points of the second half before fouling Banks from three-point range. He sunk all three shots from the line. Jiggetts followed with a layup. Easy peezy.
What wasn’t easy was the next three minutes, where USF was scoreless from the field. The Knights went on to hit 3-of-3 while the Bulls hit 1-of-7. Somehow USF kept a 54-48 lead at the under eight media timeout. Maybe because these guys were 10-for-10 from the free throw line, idk. #humblebrag
Anyway, WHY IS THE SECOND HALF ALWAYS SO BORING.
UCF hit a three and tied it up 56-56 with 5:49 to play. Smh.
Fast forward to the final media timeout, where it was getting LOUD in the Sun Dome. SO MUCH FOR BORING. A lot of back-and-forth action with three minutes left on the night. The Bulls led 59-58, before the Knights went on a quick 6-0 run. With a minute to play, UCF was up 67-59. Collins hit a jumper, drew the foul and made the extra point.
“They made a lot of shots, 70 percent in the second half,” Jiggetts said. “Credit goes to them for making shots, really. A lot of tough ones too.”
With 36 seconds to play, Collins drew another foul and sunk two more extra points. And then some Knight missed two! At this point it was 67-64 and the Sun Dome was screaming. Like literally the loudest I’ve heard it in years (granted I haven’t been to any women’s games in a couple seasons now. Don’t @ me).
“Just a great environment in here tonight,” Gregory said. “The student section had a lot of people in it the crowd was great. Hopefully a glimpse of what we can get to. We gotta do our part and I think tonight we took some steps towards that.”
Things could’ve gotten really great, until Collins stepped out of bounds. I die. That’s it. I checked out. The game ended with a 71-69 loss. Oh and the Bulls (7-13, 0-7 AAC) played without forward Tulio Da Silva who parted ways with the team today.
“I think we had good things we can build off,” Collins said. “We just gotta cut out the bad things you see at the end of the game ... I think when we put a full game together we’ll definitely start getting some Ws.”