After falling to the Shockers two weeks ago, UCF (14-8, 6-6 AAC) fended off a late charge to defeat Wichita State (12-9, 3-6 AAC) for the first time in program history in nine tries.
“We want to have a storied program here,” head coach Johnny Dawkins said. “In order to do that, we need to beat good teams and good programs. That’s the only way you can accomplish something like that.”
He’s The Mahan
The Shockers were attempting to regain a lead they had not possessed since early in the first half, which they had due to an early-game 11-2 run.
However, after Dawkins called a 30-second timeout with 16:34 left in the first half, fifth-year senior guard Brandon Mahan converted a second-chance shot from beyond the arc. This began a comeback that ended with the Knights taking the lead for good with 9:22 remaining in the half.
“He just told us to come out and play with some energy,” fifth-year senior guard Darius Perry said. “I don’t think we came out playing with enough energy to begin with.”
This is not to say that Wichita State did not make the game close. Sophomore guard Tyson Etienne converted two three-point shots to bring the Shockers within two, 66-64, with 1:35 remaining in the game.
After over a minute of deadlock, Mahan enters the picture once again. This time, he fended off the Shocker charge by making a layup, drawing a foul, and converting the free throw, giving the Knights a two-shot lead with 25.9 seconds left.
Mahan scored 14 of UCF’s 28 points in the second half.
“You’re fortunate to have a player that, in those moments, can make plays like that and you try to put them in the position to do that,” Dawkins said.
Perry Hits 1,000 Career Points
While Mahan’s scoring dominated the first half, all of Perry’s 10 points for the night came in the first half. However, it was enough for him to reach 1,000 career points between his time at Louisville and UCF.
“I’m just really happy I was able to do that but more happy that we’re able to come out with a win,” Perry said.
Euro stepping his way into an exclusive club. Congrats, D pic.twitter.com/aX5ReKnQOH— UCF Men’s Hoops (@UCF_MBB) February 9, 2022
Coming off a road loss against Memphis, senior guard and team captain Levy Renaud said a win against the likes of a program like Wichita State builds momentum for the team to finish off the regular season on a high note and “make a push for the postseason.”
“It’s games like this that we need, and we knew we needed this game and we came in and got the job done,” Renaud said.
The Knights will be back in action on Monday, Feb. 14, as they host Tulsa in a game that was originally scheduled for Jan. 8, but was postponed “due to health and safety protocols within the Tulsa program.”
Hear from the Knights:
Tip-off for UCF and Tulsa is at 7 p.m. on ESPN+.