Knights Fall to Temple in Heartbreaker

Box Score (pdf)

ORLANDO ­­– After looking like the Knights were going to pull off a hard-fought victory to secure the series sweep over conference foes Temple, the UCF men's basketball team (9-4, 1-2 AAC) ultimately fell short in a heartbreaker to the Owls (8-6, 1-2) Wednesday night at Addition Financial Arena in Orlando.
"We have to take a hard look at ourselves, work to get better, and head in that direction," said head coach Johnny Dawkins following the game.
"Defensively, we have to be better. I thought we gave up too high a field goal percentage, and then offensively, we have to continue to work on our execution and clean up some things."
While the first half didn't quite go the way the Knights had hoped, UCF still went into the locker room with a 30-29 lead at halftime.
Coming out of the half, the Knights looked dominant, outscoring Temple 14-6 to extend their lead to 44-35, but the Owls never gave up.
Temple managed to tie it up at 48 with less than seven minutes to go before jumping out to a 52-48 lead after converting an 'And One' for four points.
The Knights would battle back however, as Brandon Mahan scored six points and Cheikh Mbacke Diong tacked on two free throws to help UCF take a four-point lead. Temple responded once more with a pair of threes to give the Owls a 64-62 lead with seven seconds left.
UCF point guard Darius Perry brought the ball up the court looking to tie or win the game, but Temple forced the ball out of bounds off Perry to give the Owls the ball with just 1.7 seconds left in the game.
With the ball back in their hands, the Owls sunk two free throws to put it away and secure the 66-62 score to win the game.
Darius Perry led UCF with 14 points and four assists in the game, while Cheikh Mbacke Diong added 12 points and three blocked shots in the loss.
Jahlil White had a game-high 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting and Dunn added 16 on a pair of made 3-pointers for Temple.
The Knights were scheduled to take on Tulsa on Jan. 8 in Orlando, but that game has since been postponed due to COVID issues within the Tulsa men's basketball program. As a result, UCF's next matchup will be Wednesday, Jan. 12 as the Knights welcome Memphis to town for a 7:00 p.m. showdown at Addition Financial Arena.