PirateIllustrated - East Carolina Rally Comes Up Short in 48-45 Loss at Central Florida
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East Carolina Rally Comes Up Short in 48-45 Loss at Central Florida

Kentrell Barkley and the ECU's rally comes up short at Central Florida to fall to 9-7 for the season.
Kentrell Barkley and the ECU's rally comes up short at Central Florida to fall to 9-7 for the season. (PirateIllustrated.com photo)

ORLANDO - B.J. Taylor had 19 points and Matt Williams added 13 and despite leading by 15, ECU made a big comeback late in the game that came up three points short in a 48-45 UCF win over the Pirates Tuesday night.

Kentrell Barkley led ECU with 16 and B.J. Tyson scored 13, but down by three points with seconds to play, Tyson's three-point attempt as time expired banged off the rim and proved to be the margin of victory for the Knights.

“Defensively you can’t do a game plan any better than what we did tonight against Tacko Fall, against Efianayi, against A.J. Davis. Offensively, putting the ball in the basket, we had a stretch there where I don’t think we scored a basket for thirteen minutes,” said East Carolina head coach Jeff Lebo.

“Give our guys credit though. They still defended, we still were in the game. We learned a valuable lesson that if you’re not good offensively on a given night if you continue to work defensively and rebound the ball a little bit, it’s amazing how things can turn around for you and they did in the last six minutes of the game,” Lebo said, "What an effort. Seventeen down with six to go and have a shot to tie it. B.J. Taylor, a guy who has been hurt for them came in and really saves the day for them with a big three."

ECU jumped out to an early 7-0 lead behind a pair of three-point jumpers from Caleb White and Kentrell Barkley. UCF scored their first point of the game at the 12:42 mark. ECU then went cold as ice shooting the basketball while the Knights went on a 20-2 run.

Kentrell Barkley finally got something going for the Pirates with a pair of made shots near the end of the half and UCF took a 23-15 lead into the locker room. B.J. Taylor led the Knights with 10 first half points while Barkley led the cold shooting Pirates with seven.

ECU connected on a frigid 16.7 percent from the field in the first twenty minutes including just 2 of 10 from the arc. The one thing that kept ECU in the game was the fact that UCF only hit 23.8 percent from the field in their own right including just one for nine from three-point range. UCF got the the charity stripe though with regularity - 16 times in the first half and connected on 12 of them while ECU went just 3 for 7.

A pair of Matt Williams jumpers and three baskets from Chad Brown extended the UCF lead to 34-20 with 11:15 to go in the game. Brown then got to the foul line and hit 3 of 4 to stretch the Knight's lead to fifteen points at the ten minute mark.

But ECU roared back on two Kentrell Barkley treys, a basket from Deng Riak and a three-pointer from B.J. Tyson that keyed a 16-1 run and cut the lead to 40-38 with 1:23 to play. B.J. Taylor's trey extended the UCF lead to five before a Raquan Wilkins steal and score for ECU cut the lead to just three at 43-40.

A pair of Taylor free throws for UCF with 23.4 to play was followed by a ECU trey from Tyson in a two-point 45-43 contest. ECU then fouled Taylor with 17.1 to play and he hit both shots.

B.J. Tyson’s drive with 6.4 seconds to play for ECU sliced the Knight's lead to three points again and the Pirates fouled Williams at the other end who missed the front end of the one and one. B.J. Tyson’s then took the basketball the length of the court and his wide open three-point attempt from the top of the key at the buzzer banged off the iron as the Knights took the victory.

The two teams hit 27 and 26 percent from the field respectively. ECU went 6 of 16 from the charity stripe and had two lane violations during free throw attempts while UCF hit 21 of 28.

With the win UCF moves to 12-3 and 3-0 for the first time in AAC play while ECU falls to 9-7 and 1-2 in league play.