UCF Drops Home Opener in Overtime 61-60


Danny Morales / Valencia Voice

A.J. Davis finished with 19 points to lead the Knights.

Adonys Henriquez shot came up short at the buzzer for the UCF Knights, as they dropped their home opener 61-60 in overtime to UC Irvine.

The Knights had two attempts to take the lead in overtime. With 22 seconds to go, UCF ran the clock down to under 10 before A.J. Davis had a good look under the hoop that came up short. Shaheed Davis would also come up short on the put back attempt.

UCF (0-2) would regain possession with 4.2 seconds remaining. A.J. Davis fed Henriquez for the game-winning attempt, but ultimately missed, sending the Knights to 0-2 on the season.

“I felt like we played a good game, it just came down to the last couple of plays,” said A.J. Davis. “They made some plays and we didn’t.

The Tennessee transfer led UCF in scoring with 19 points. Davis also chipped in five assists and four rebounds.

Luke Nelson led UC Irvine (3-0) in scoring with 22 points and also dished out six assists.

In what was being dubbed ‘The Biggest Home Opener in College Hoops,’ UCF’s 7 foot 6 freshman Tacko Fall gave the fans a reason to be excited early on. Fall blocked fellow Senegal native and 7 foot 6 center Mamadou Ndiaye on back to back possessions early to send the student section into an uproar.

Fall also had a monster dunk towards the end of regulation to tie the game in the final minute. He finished the game with six points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots.

“It felt great to finally be able to play with them, to play in front of the home crowd,” said Fall. “I remember last year when I used to come here and watch them play and now I was actually playing.”

UCF struggled shooting in the first half, going 8-30 from the field. The Anteaters weren’t much better, shooting 32% in the opening 20 minutes.

The Anteaters went on an 8-0 run out of a timeout to take a 22-14 lead with 7:08 to play. UCF would respond with a 6-0 run of their own to close the gap to 22-20.

The Knights were able to get to the free throw line to keep the deficit to only two at the half. They also out-rebounded UC Irvine 33-16 in the first half.

The rebounding edge would stay with the Black and Gold, as they finished with 57 rebounds to UC Irvine’s 34.

Second half saw back-and-forth action early on, with the Knights seizing momentum halfway through after back-to-back baskets and a block on defense by Staphon Blair. UCF led 42-35 with 12 minutes to go.

The Anteaters would battle back and take a 47-45 lead with 6:16 to play, as the teams would exchange baskets and the lead down the stretch.

After the Fall dunk with 26 seconds to go to tie the game up at 58, UCF was able to hold serve on defense and also had a chance to win in regulation. However, Daiquan Walker wasn’t able to get a clean look and heaved the ball from half court, sending the game into overtime.

“Obviously we are not happy with a loss, we expect to win and we’re capable of winning, but there’s a price you have to pay to win those games and we still have to find a way,” said UCF head coach Donnie Jones.

Matt Williams was the only other player in double figures for UCF, finishing with 10 points.

The Knights are now 0-2 on the season for the first time since 2000. UCF will look to build on the two close losses to NCAA Tournament teams from last year going forward.

“We could have played an easier schedule early on and been 2-0, but we played two pretty good teams here to start off on purpose because we need to build the standard that we have to be at as we move forward,” added Jones.

UCF will remain at home for their next game this Sat. Nov. 21 against UNC Greensboro at 7 p.m. EST.