Maurice Kemp had 24 points, 11 rebounds and two rebounds but it wasn’t enough to help propel ECU past UCF in Orlando Saturday afternoon. The Knights won 83-73, paced by a triple-double effort by Isaiah Sykes (20 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists).
After racing out to a 21-21 deadlock, UCF began to take over. The Knights went on an 11-0 run over the next four minutes capped by a Tristan Spurlock three-pointer with 8:07 remaining in the first half. UCF held the Pirates at arms length for the remainder of the half, leading by ten or more on all but three occasions.
As the second half began the Knights’ lead ballooned to 16 points. But from there, ECU began to chip away to give itself a shot at the lead. A fast break layup by Kemp at the 15-minute mark gave the Pirates a nine-point deficit (53-44). With seven minutes left, Ty Armstrong made a layup to trail by seven (65-58).
But whatever the Pirates did, UCF had a response. With the Pirates threatening and five minutes to play, the Knights hit back-to-back threes (Sykes and Spurlock respectively) to take a commanding 13-point lead (73-60).
Again, ECU began chipping away. Three-pointers by Miguel Paul and Akeem Richmond brought the Pirates within four points, 77-73, with 1:31 left on the clock. UCF closed out the win with the game’s final five points to give ECU no shot at a come-from-behind win.
Though Kemp had the game high with 24 points, Armstrong finished second in scoring for the Pirates with 13 points and nine rebounds. Paul had 11 points, 10 assists and three steals.
The pace of this game was set by the three-pointer. ECU finished the game going 10-27 from beyond the arc with many of their shots coming late in the game. UCF went 11-27, including nine of their first 19, which helped build their lead.
The game started with five out of the first seven shots being three-pointers (two for ECU and three for UCF) as ECU took a 10-9 lead. The game progressed with seven lead changes and two ties, one on every possession leading to the tie at 21-all.
UCF’s Spurlock finished just behind Sykes in terms of scoring, with 16 points. The two were followed by Keith Clanton with 14 and Calvin Newell with 13 points.
The Pirates (13-9, 4-5) have lost three of their last four games after starting their conference schedule with a 3-2 record. ECU’s next game will be this Wednesday at home against UAB. Tip off is set for 7 p.m.