Jekyll and Hide, UCF Takes Down the Eckerd Tritons with a Monstrous Second Half

 

By: Troy Ondrizek (Orlando, FL 11/20/14)

     This inexperienced UCF (2-0) squad got a much tougher than anticipated test from Division II foe Eckerd College (1-3) in the second game of the year. Though the game didn’t unfold as planned, the Knights valiantly fought their way to victory behind gutsy play of (So) guard Brandon Goodwin, (Sr) forward Kasey Wilson, and the long range accuracy of (Fr) guard Adonys Henriquez.

       Goodwin attacked Eckerd’s 2-3 zone early with dribble penetration and made a concerted effort to feed Stephon Blair in the post early on. This aggressive game-plan was met with great success early as UCF charged out to a 20-8 with a little under 6 minutes gone by in the first half. As soon as Goodwin and company were sat for a rest, things started to fall apart. From 14:00 to 12:00 we had four straight possessions where we had 3 turnovers and an air-ball resulting in a defensive rebound. Eckerd used this to double their score and pull back into the game. Donnie Jones lamented this moment afterwards “The first half turnovers were crucial. We got up 20-8 and I subbed three guys off the bench and our energy went straight to the ground. We turned it over four times in a row for eight of their points. That put them right back in the game. It changed the whole momentum. We had a hard time getting that momentum back”

     Momentum stayed with the Tritons for the remainder of the half. As they were patient against our own 2-3 zone and utilized plenty of ball movement and a ton of clock to get good shots of their own and keep our more athletic play makers from controlling the tempo of the game. The referees were blowing on their whistles like they were rescue inhalers and Eckerd was in the bonus early and them going 8-10 from the charity stripe helped them to a 37-35 halftime lead.

     UCF came out in the second half with a renewed determination. BJ Taylor and Brandon Goodwin literally took it Eckerd and the young guards bombarded the paint with penetrating drives and effective aggression. It didn’t immediately pay off as Eckerd scored the first 4 points of the half extending their lead by 6, but it was body work that eventually broke Eckerd down.

     The Knights put their opponents on their heels and developed a rhythm that minimized turnovers and led to open shots. Kasey Wilson touched some on the adjustments at half “We had 11 turnovers at half so Coach talked to us about taking better care of the ball. We focused on playing the right way, making the extra pass and playing with energy. I think that carried over into the second half. It showed once we extended the lead.” It was Kasey Wilson who capped off a 9-0 run with a drive and lay-in to put UCF up 44-41 with just over 15:00 to play.

     From there the Knights never looked back and played entertaining basketball. Goodwin and Taylor continued with their dangerous forays into the land of Giants and found their compatriots for open looks. UCF shot 59% from the floor for the game and Adonys Henriquez led the way with 21 points including a blistering 5-7 from deep. Stephon Blair and Shaheed Davis took out all their aggression on the rim with aerial assault dunks with Blair twice being the Oop to Goodwin’s Alley. The good guys ran away with the second half 41-22. The last two sequences to end the game showed what UCF was all about, a picturesque 3 from long range for Henriquez and Blair doing his best Jale Hervey impersonation as he spiked a Triton’s futile shot into the face of one of his teammates. Shocked, the last heave barely made it to the rim and the buzzer sounded out another

     UCF victory. Afterwards Coach Jones was happy with the win and with the effort and reduction in turnovers in that second half. “We turned it over only three times in the second half. It takes the young guys a longer time to learn the reads of what to do with the ball, and in the second half we did much better with that.”

The win moves UCF to 2-0 on the season and the Knights will be looking to improve upon that record Sunday night at 6p.m. at the Dungeon (CFE Arena).