UCF

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their mark, each shot was fol­lowed up by a re­bound that gave the Knights new life. The pos­ses­sion fi­nally con­cluded when Ter­rell Allen drained a 3-pointer from the cor­ner.

When asked after­ward what he thought about his team’s im­prove­ment on the glass, coach Johnny Dawkins kept it short and di­rect.

“I’m happy,” he said with a laugh full of re­lief.

Said for­ward Chad Brown, who was one of three Knights with a teamhigh eight re­bounds: “The big­gest thing about re­bound­ing is it’s an ef­fort and en­ergy stat. That doesn’t take amaz­ing skills to do; it’s just heart and ef­fort.

“That’s some­thing that we put a stamp on and that’s some­thing that we fo­cused on this week, and we got bet­ter to­day at it. I was proud of our guys to be able to crash the glass and play strong. That’s some­thing that we’ve got to con­tinue to do.”

UCF came out strong in all facets in the first half. The Knights scored 18 of their first 20 points in the paint and de­vel­oped a dou­ble-digit ad­van­tage just six min­utes into the con­test. The Knights’ de­fense held ECU to just 36 per­cent shoot­ing and forced nine turnovers in the open­ing 20 min­utes.

The Knights kept rolling for most of the se­cond half thanks to guard Aubrey Dawkins, who scored 16 of his team-high 18 points af­ter the break.

But ECU fresh­man for­ward Jay­den Gard­ner kept pulling his team back into con­tention. He en­tered Sun­day av­er­ag­ing 20.5 points and 10 re­bounds over his past 10 games. He put up 35 points and 20 re­bounds against the Knights, the ma­jor­ity of which came in the lat­ter half.

“The young man Gard­ner, he’s one of the best fresh­men I’ve seen this year,” Johnny Dawkins said. “He’s re­lent­less.”

The Pi­rates crept closer as the game’s pace be­came stilted by a cav­al­cade of whis­tles. There were 34 fouls is­sued in the se­cond half, some­thing which coach Dawkins said played a fac­tor as the Knights shot just 35 per­cent af­ter half­time.

“We fouled too much, put them on the line, and when ev­ery­body’s go­ing to the free-throw line, the game be­comes some­what dis­jointed,” he said. “I think that’s what you saw hap­pen, es­pe­cially in the se­cond half, and that’s not how we play.”

Still, the Knights were able to make enough plays to keep their win­ning streak alive and their con­fer­ence record un­blem­ished.

The Knights will head back out on the road to face the Wi­chita State Shock­ers on Wed­nes­day night.

Aubrey Dawkins was asked if there’s one thing he hopes car­ries over from the day’s tri­umph to the Knights’ next game. His an­swer was un­sur­pris­ing.

“Re­bound­ing,” he said. “Keep do­ing a good job on that end and I think we’re a tough team to beat.”

UCF cen­ter Tacko Fall drives to the bas­ket dur­ing the Knights’ win over East Carolina on Sun­day at CFE Arena. COUR­TESY OF UCF ATH­LET­ICS

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