Valparaiso allowed UCF to connect on 13 3-pointers Monday evening in Orlando, Fla., propelling the Knights to an 85-60 victory over the Crusaders.
Three early triples from UCF’s Jermaine Taylor helped stake the Knights to a quick 15-6 advantage less than five minutes into the game. But the Crusaders fought back, as Michael Rogers (Kingston, Jamaica/Redemption [N.Y.] Christian) converted a layup and following a UCF basket, Brandon McPherson (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence North), who was making his first start of the year, connected on triples on back-to-back possessions to bring the Crusaders back to within three points at 17-14 with 13:40 remaining in the half.
The Knights started drilling 3-pointers from that point, however, getting four triples by three different players over the next two minutes to jump-start a 23-3 run over a nearly eight-minute span. By the time Rogers knocked down a trifecta with 5:50 remaining in the opening stanza, UCF’s lead had swelled to 40-20. Valpo attempted to seize the momentum going into the locker room, scoring the last five points of the half, including a putback at the buzzer by Urule Igbavboa (Oakdale, Minn./Tartan), to close to 44-28 at the break.
UCF scored the first five points out of the locker room to take back the momentum, and a conventional 3-point play by Igbavboa did nothing to slow the Knights’ run, as they scored the next ten points to go up 59-31 with 14:24 remaining in the game. Valpo would get no closer than 22 points the rest of the way.
McPherson led the way offensively for the Crusaders, connecting on three 3-pointers on his way to 12 points. Cameron Witt (Launceston, Tasmania, Australia/Launceston) added ten points off the bench, while Erik Buggs (Memphis, Tenn./Mitchell) handed out eight assists.
UCF (6-4), which shot a sizzling 63.3% (31-of-49) for the game, including 59.1% (13-of-22) from behind the arc, was paced by 21 points from Taylor, who accounted for six of the Knights’ triples. Isaac Sosa knocked down all four of his attempts from behind the arc en route to 15 points off the bench as well.Valparaiso (3-8) returns to action after Christmas as the Crusaders travel to #10/15 Purdue on Sunday, Dec. 28 for a 3 p.m. CST tip. All the action can be seen live on the Big Ten Network or heard on the Valpo Sports Radio Network (WVUR, 95.1 FM, Valparaiso; WAKE, 1500 AM, Valparaiso; WEFM, 95.9 FM, Michigan City; WWLO, 89.1 FM, Lowell) and online at www.valpoathletics.com, which will also have a link for live stats.