ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - In a game filled with runs, USF had the final spurt Wednesday inside the UCF Arena. As a result, UCF was unable to complete the series sweep of its cross-state rival after the Bulls used a late run to pull away for a 65-56 victory.
After trailing by as many as 13 points after intermission, UCF (9-4) rallied to tie the game, but the Bulls (9-3) built a 4-point lead with 1:09 to play when Toarlyn Fitzpatrick nailed a 3-pointer that sparked an 11-3 run to close the game for USF.
The Knights, who entered the game as one of the top 3-point shooting teams in the country, made just 4-of-22 (18.2 percent) of their tries from deep. UCF was led by Keith Clanton, who totaled 18 points and a game-high 14 boards.
UCF and the Bulls were meeting for the second time this year. On Nov. 10, in the season opener for both teams, the Knights rolled to a 74-56 win over USF in Tampa.
USF started each half in strong fashion and went up 47-34 with 13:05 to play after a dunk by Victor Rudd capped a 16-5 run. The hosts responded with a run of their own. Clanton had seven points during a 19-6 spurt that allowed UCF to tie the game at 53 with 2:29 left when Isaiah Sykes (17 points) made a free throw.
"It was a game of runs. Give them credit," UCF head coach Donnie Jones said of USF. "I thought our guys had some good looks. We had some good looks, but shots didn't go down. Our kids fought back. It would have been easy to tuck our heads there. We showed a little toughness defensively to get back in the game against a team that is picked in the middle of the pack in the BIG EAST."
Four Bulls finished with double digits in scoring, led by Jawanza Poland with 18 points. USF took a 28-27 edge into halftime after Fitzpatrick hit a triple with four seconds left. UCF had trailed by seven points in the opening half, but used a 15-0 run to take the lead.
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Knights. UCF shot 43.1 percent overall.
UCF will continue its season-long seven-game homestand on Saturday when it hosts Florida A&M. Tipoff is 4 p.m.