ORLANDO, FL. (WFIE) – Kenny Strawbridge Jr. returned to form, scoring 20 points as the University of Evansville men’s basketball team lost a 76-56 game to the University of Central Florida on Wednesday night at the Addition Financial Arena. Full statistics will be posted as they become available.
“UCF have a ton of experience and they are going to win a lot of games. We did a good job of containing them in the first half, but it looked like the floodgates had opened during a second half streak” , said EU head coach David Ragland, “We need to do a better job of stopping the bleeding during these types of stretches and generating quality possessions.”
Antoine Smith Jr. scored nine points while Blaise Beauchamp tied his tally.
Strawbridge hit two opening shots to give the Aces a 6-0 lead. The Evansville defense held the Knights to an 0-for-5 start from the field before they were put on the board at 15:32. UCF took their first lead of the night at 9-8 with just under 13 minutes left in the half. Their second hat-trick of the night took them 14-11, but it was Antoine Smith Jr. who provided an immediate response at the other end to equalise.
UCF had 11 points in a row to take their biggest advantage at 25-15 with four straight shots finding the back of the net with less than nine minutes left in the half. Confident in his team’s ability to weather adversity, Coach Ragland did just that and his team responded. Five straight by Blaise Beauchamp highlighted a 7-0 rally for Evansville.
As the first half entered the final minute, the Knights extended their lead to 11 when a dunk from Taylor Hendricks pushed the lead to 35-24. The EU was undeterred by the deficit and seized on the incoming momentum at halftime. Smith drained his second triple of the game and following a miss from UCF, the Aces had final possession. With time running out, Marvin Coleman II drained a triple to send the Aces down just five – 35-30.
What turned into a 10-0 run from the Aces went on to open the second half when Gage Bobe turned a steal into a quick field goal to open the scoring. Coleman hit a layup on the ensuing possession to make it a 35-34 game. Five minutes into the final stanza, Preston Phillips knocked down a 3-pointer to make it 42-39, but in the blink of an eye the tide turned.
Eight straight games by the Knights in less than a minute saw them tie their biggest lead at 50-39. Strawbridge helped UE get back within seven points before UCF started to take control. Inside the 6 minute mark, they opened up a 66-51 lead and would go on to claim the win by 20.
UE travels to Savannah this weekend where they face South Alabama, Robert Morris and Fairfield.
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