CONWAY, S.C., November 16, 2018 – The motto for St. Joseph’s is “The Hawk Will Never Die,” a slogan represented at each game by the school’s ever-flapping mascot. But UCF showed Friday that the Hawks basketball team can be grounded.
The Knights used a stifling defense to hold St. Joseph’s to only 38.2 percent shooting, allowing UCF to fly away with a 77-57 victory in the second round of the Myrtle Beach Invitational. The victory sends the Knights into Sunday’s tournament championship game.
While St. Joseph’s sophomore guard Charlie Brown had another stellar performance with 28 points, he was one of only two players to tally more than six points for the Hawks (3-1). The key was a 7½-minute stretch in the first half during which St. Joseph’s managed just two points, enabling UCF to turn a 22-22 tie into a 36-24 lead.
“We gave a great defensive effort,” said UCF 7-foot-6 senior center Tacko Fall, who finished with 12 points, nine rebounds and four blocks. “I feel like we imposed our will throughout the game. That’s how we play. Defense is about effort, and if you bring it every night, you’ll have a chance to win.”
He will get no argument about that from St Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli, who said his team seemingly had no answer for the Knights after the early start.
“Their defense is good on tape, and it’s outstanding in person,” Martelli said. “We got to 22-22, and then hit a wall. We rushed some jumpers, and at the rim we weren’t finishing. But all credit to their defense. They’re a wonderful, wonderful defensive team.”
The Knights (3-1) were pretty good offensively as well, making 55.2 percent of their shots for the game, 60 percent in the second half. Junior guard Terrell Allen led the way with 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting.
“Our offense really complemented our defense tonight,” UCF coach Johnny Dawkins said. “Being very efficient offensively allowed us to come back and set up our defense. Our guys really started to lock in as the game went on, and we had enough stops to gain some momentum.”
Wake Forest 66, Cal State Fullerton 59
A two-minute storming by Wake Forest turned out to be the difference in the Demon Deacons’ 66-59 victory over Cal State Fullerton in Friday’s second round of the Myrtle Beach Invitational.
The two teams were engaged in a close, back-and-forth battle for most of the second half. The score was tied 51-51 with less than five minutes left when Wake suddenly ripped off 10 unanswered points in a two-minute span, a run that effectively put the game away.
Fullerton coach Dedrique Taylor said his team did not respond well when the Deacons (2-1) went to a zone defense, cutting off what had been open paths to the basket for the Titans (1-3).
“We got stagnant and stopped attacking,” Taylor said. “We stood around and took some ill-advised shots and out-of-rhythm shots. Those are the runs you have to be able to withstand if you want to come out on top.
“That’s something we have to deal with. When teams switch up defenses, we’re still going to have to have an aggressive, attack mentality. We can’t allow ourselves to stand around and wait for something. We have to create the action.”
While the Titans struggled with their outside shot, going 7-of-26 from 3-point range, Wake got hot at the right time. The Deacs were a dismal 8-of-32 from the field in the first half, but they sank 6-of-7 during a late stretch.
“We showed some grit,” Wake Forest coach Danny Manning said. “Our young guys did a really good job of answering the bell in the second half and found a way to get a win, especially when we don’t shoot the ball well.”
Wake freshman forward Jaylen Hoard scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half to go along with seven rebounds. Khalil Ahmad led Fullerton with 20 points.