GREENVILLE, N.C. – UCF rallied from a 20-point second-half deficit to post a 92-85 overtime victory over East Carolina in an American Athletic Conference contest Tuesday night inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.
The Pirates (11-6, 2-3 AAC) lost at home for the first time this season while the Knights (11-5, 3-3 AAC) rebounded from a tough setback at South Florida to even their league record.
“That’s really disappointing,” head coach Joe Dooley said. “You have to give UCF credit for coming back but we have to coach them better in closing out games, getting stops and closing out possessions. We turned it over way too much which is something we haven’t done all year. It’s a hard one to swallow.”
Tristen Newton led all players with 27 points while Alanzo Frink, R.J. Felton and Brandon Johnson also reached double figures with 16, 14 and 10 respectively. Darius Perry and Brandon Mahan each dropped in 19 to pace UCF. Perry added eight assists and four steals to his final ledger.
Both teams made over 30 field goals as ECU ended up shooting 53.3 percent (32 of 60) from the floor as compared to a 49.2-percent (31 of 63) showing by the visitors. The Knights heated up from deep in the second half, knocking down nine of 14 attempts (64.3 percent) to help force overtime. The Pirates turned the ball over 22 times, which led to 25 UCF points, and outrebounded the Knights 35-32.
UCF jumped out to a 10-5 lead at the 16:57 mark of the first half thanks to an Isaiah Adams triple. East Carolina responded with a 16-2 run capped by a Johnson layup off an offensive rebound to take a 21-12 advantage with 9:11 to go in the stanza.
Brandon Suggs knocked down three free throws to put the Pirates up by double figures at 27-17 with the clock showing 7:51, and the lead would grow to as much as 16 before a Johnson turnaround jumper sent ECU to the intermission with a 44-28 cushion.
East Carolina drained 15 of 25 (60 percent) from the field in the opening 20 minutes and held a healthy 17-12 advantage in total rebounds. Johnson netted 10 points to lead all scorers while Cheikh Mbacke Diong notched a team-best seven for UCF.
The Pirates did not let up out of the break, racing out to their largest lead of the night at 53-33 via a Newton three pointer with 17:29 remaining in regulation. ECU stayed ahead by double figures all the way down to the 6:36 mark when Perry hit a triple to pull the Knights within 68-60.
East Carolina went cold in the remainder of regulation and saw UCF eventually tie the score with a Perry three as the clock ticked down to 24 seconds. Newton could not get a clean look on the final play and the teams moved on to the overtime period.
The Knights used a Mahan three to take an early advantage it would not surrender. UCF would push in front by as much as 11 in the extra frame before salting the game away at the free throw line.
Up Next: East Carolina hits the road for Houston, taking on the nationally-ranked Cougars Jan. 22 at 6 p.m. inside the Fertitta Center. The contest is slated to air on ESPN2.