Diakite, Knights Hold Off Albany

Nov. 28, 2009

Box Score in PDF Format

By Doug Richards

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - UCF certainly did not have its best defensive effort of the year Saturday against Albany at the UCF Arena. Still, the Knights made key stops with the game on the line to record a 76-72 victory and improve to 5-1 on the campaign.

Redshirt freshman forward Dave Diakite (Washington, D.C.) scored a career-high 21 points and also added a game-high eight boards for the Knights. Even with a 7-of-11 shooting performance, Diakite's biggest play of the game came on the other end of the floor and helped seal the win for the hosts.

After a traditional 3-point play from junior guard Taylor Young (Orlando, Fla.) gave UCF a 74-72 edge with 2:05 remaining in the contest, the Knights forced the Great Danes (3-4) to miss three shots that would have tied the game, or given the visitors the lead. Albany inbounded the ball under its own basket with five seconds left, but Diakite stepped into the paint and stole Mike Johnson's pass. The forward then hit two foul shots to secure the win.

"I pretty much read it. They ran the play earlier," Diakite said of his key steal. "So I kind of baited it."

UCF head coach Kirk Speraw was not pleased with his team's defensive effort, as Albany shot 50.0 percent overall and totaled 26 points in the paint. Despite the defensive lapses, he was happy that his young squad hounded Albany at the end of the game.

"I am glad we stepped up and made some big stops at the end of the ballgame. I think that was crucial," Speraw said.

Albany perimeter players Tim Ambrose (25 points) and Will Harris (23) combined for 48 of the Great Danes' 72 points.

"You have to give Albany a lot of credit for the way they played tonight," Speraw said. "They had a great scheme. Obviously their two guards are very hard to defend. That was a real concern for us."

The contest was tied at 37 at halftime, and featured 24 total lead changes and nine ties. Diakite hopes that winning a close ballgame like this will help UCF down the line.

"We have a lot of young guys on the team. So if we can learn how to win games like this, then later on down the road, possibly we will keep winning games like this," he said.

UCF connected on 17-of-19 (89.5 percent) of its free-throw tries. Diakite was one of three Knights who finished with double-figures in scoring. Sophomore guard Isaac Sosa (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) scored 13 points, and Young added 10 points and four assists of the bench.

Next up for UCF is a Tuesday contest with Newberry at 7 p.m. at the UCF Arena. Newberry is coached by former UCF assistant Steve DeMeo.

For the latest news on the Knights, log on to UCFAthletics.com - the official site for UCF varsity sports. The site, which also contains ticket and Golden Knights Club donor information, is also the home of UCF's new online apparel store. Also visit UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pictures.