GREENVILLE, N.C. – Junior Jermaine Taylor scored a career-high 32 points to lead UCF over homestanding East Carolina, 71-66, inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum Saturday night, snapping the Pirates’ three-game homecourt winning streak.
Taylor, who entered the game with a 20.0 points per game average, attained his average by halftime as the Knights (10-7, 3-0 Conference USA) led by as many as 22 points in the first half. Senior Dave Noel added 14 points in the victory.
Junior James Legan was the Pirates’ (7-9, 1-2) top scorer with a career-high 20 points, scoring 15 points in the second half. Legan made a career-high six 3-pointers in 20 minutes of action. Classmate Sam Hinnant tallied 13 points in a losing effort.
After cutting their deficit to 13 at halftime, the Pirates made a furious rally in the second half, outscoring their foe 45-21 during one stretch, and took their first lead of the game on a Legan three-pointer, 52-51, with 5:35 minutes remaining in the game. Brock Young then scored on the Pirates’ next possession for a three-point lead with 5:12 left.
The Knights then went on a 12-4 run to claim a five-point advantage with 1:18 left as Mike O’Donnell’s 3 gave his team a two possession lead.
UCF went a perfect 8-of-8 from the foul line in the game’s final 20 seconds to preserve the victory. The Knights missed just one free throw the entire night, going 15-of-16 from the charity stripe.
After shooting 29.2 percent in the first half, ECU shot 48.5 percent from the floor in the game’s final 20 minutes. UCF shot 47 percent from the field in both halves.
UCF scored the game’s first 14 points as East Carolina missed its first five shots and committed six turnovers before finally scoring a basket six minutes into the game. The Knights continued to build their lead over the next eight minutes and led by 22, 29-7, with 6:26 remaining before halftime.
The Pirates cut their deficit to 10, 33-23, on a Legan 3 before Taylor countered with a 3 of his own to give the Knights a 36-23 halftime advantage.