Knights rally, earn victory on the road
NORMAL, Ill. — Brandon Mahan’s put-back layup off an offensive rebound with 25 seconds left helped seal UCF’s 67-65 win over Illinois State on Sunday.
Mahan’s shot made it 66-65, and following a Redbirds timeout, each team exchanged turnovers. Zach Copeland missed a 3-point attempt for Illinois State and Keith Fisher III fouled Mahan, who made 1 of 2 foul shots. Illinois State failed to get off a shot at the end.
Collin Smith led UCF (2-1) with 18 points and Mahan scored 17 with 10 rebounds. Darin Green Jr. scored 13 and Avery Diggs added 10.
Dedric Boyd led Illinois State (2-1) with 22 points on 10-of-15 shooting. Matt Chastain scored 12 and Antonio Reeves 11.
The Knights overcame a 34-25 halftime deficit and trailed most of the second half. Green hit a 3-pointer with 68 seconds left for
UCF’s first lead of the half, 64-63. Rey Idowu gave Illinois State its last lead with a put-back off his offensive rebound before Mahan’s game winner.
“We beat a very good basketball team today,” UCF coach Johnny Dawkins said. “I was very impressed. I was happy with our guys’ fight. They showed maturity and stuck to the game plan, giving us an opportunity to win at the end.”
While he wants to the Knights to improve their execution and break their streak of trailing during every game so far this season, Dawkins said he is proud of the team’s resilience.
“I think it says that our guys have big hearts,” he said. “… We’ve been down in every game that we’ve played. Of course we didn’t win them all. I don’t think we lacked the will to fight. I don’t think we lack the will to keep coming back and give us an opportunity.”
UCF will host Charleston Saturday at 2 p.m. and will be streamed on ESPN3.com.
UCF coach Johnny Dawkins praised his players for rallying for a win over Illinois State after trailing most of the contest in Normal, Illinois.