Aces Basketball falls on the road at Central Florida

University of Evansville men's basketball program.
University of Evansville men's basketball program.(WFIE)
Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 11:18 PM CST
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ORLANDO, FL. (WFIE) - Kenny Strawbridge Jr. returned to form, scoring 20 points as the University of Evansville men’s basketball team dropped a 76-56 contest against the University of Central Florida on Wednesday evening inside Addition Financial Arena.  Full stats will be posted as soon as they are available.

“UCF has a ton of experience and they are going to win a lot of games.  We did a nice job of containing them in the first half, but it seemed like the flood gates opened during a stretch in the second half,” UE head coach David Ragland said.  “We need to do a better job of stopping the bleeding during those types of stretches and generate quality possessions.”

Antoine Smith Jr. score nine points while Blaise Beauchamp matched his total.

Strawbridge hit two early shots to give the Aces a 6-0 lead.  Evansville’s defense held the Knights to an 0-for-5 start from the field before they got on the board at the 15:32 mark.  UCF took its first lead of the night at 9-8 with just under 13 minutes left in the half.  Their second triple of the night put them up 14-11 but it was Antoine Smith Jr. providing an immediate answer on the other end to tie it right back up.

UCF reeled off 11 points in a row to take their largest advantage of 25-15 with four consecutive shots finding the bottom of the net with under nine minutes left in the half.  Confident in his team’s ability to play through the adversity, Coach Ragland did just that and his team responded.  Five in a row by Blaise Beauchamp highlighted a 7-0 rally for Evansville.

With the first half entering the final minute, the Knights padded their lead at 11 when a Taylor Hendricks dunk pushed the advantage to 35-24.  UE was undeterred by the deficit and grabbed the momentum entering halftime.  Smith drained his second triple of the game and following a UCF miss, the Aces had the final possession.  With time running down, Marvin Coleman II drained a triple to send the Aces to the break down just five – 35-30.

What turned into a 10-0 run by the Aces continued to open the second half when Gage Bobe turned a steal into a fastbreak basket to open the scoring.  Coleman hit a layup on the ensuing possession to make it a 35-34 game.  Five minutes into the final stanza, Preston Phillips knocked down a 3-pointer to make it a 42-39 game, but in the blink of an eye, the tide turned.

Eight in a row by the Knights in less than a minute saw them match their largest lead at 50-39.  Strawbridge helped UE get back within seven tallies before UCF would begin to take control.  Inside of the 6-minute mark, they opened up a 66-51 lead and would go on to take the win by 20.

UE travels to Savannah this weekend where they are set to face South Alabama, Robert Morris and Fairfield.