ORLANDO, Fla., November 16, 2008 â€“ North Carolina A&Tâ€™s game with Central Florida went pretty much how head menâ€™s basketball coach Jerry Eaves thought it would. He knew his team was good enough to compete against Central Florida.
The question in his mind, were they experienced enough to beat them. After an 81-62 loss to the Knights at UCF Arena, the answer for now is not yet. But the six-year head coach was encouraged by what he saw.
â€œWe played with them for 30 minutes and simply ran out of gas,â€™â€™ said Eaves. â€œIâ€™m pretty sure we turned the ball over a lot in the last 10 minutes and they were able to capitalize. We turned them over the whole game, but we couldnâ€™t take advantage in the last 10 minutes.â€
Central Floridaâ€™s scoring was provided by senior Jermaine Taylor and freshman Isaac Sosa. Taylor, one of the top returning scorers in the nation, finished with 28 points and 10 rebounds on 11-for-21 shooting. Sosa scored 16 of his 18 points in the first half, including four first-half 3-pointers.
Â The Aggies were led by Nic Wilsonâ€™s 17 points on 5-for-9 shooting from 3-point range. Junior Tavarus Alston chipped in with 13 points and six assists, and has 13 assists in his first two games.
Sosa scored his only second-half basket at the 13:10 mark to give UCF a 59-52 lead. Wilson answered with a 3-pointer from the corner to pull the Aggies to within four. Junior Robert Johnson then went to the line and hit one of two free throws to put the Aggies down 59-56 with 11:36 remaining. Â
It was this point where the effects of playing a game on Friday, hopping on a plane on Saturday and playing early Sunday afternoon may have started to wear on the Aggies. The Aggies turned the ball over six times in a three-minute span, allowing the Knights to go on a 12-2 run to take a 71-58 lead with 8:15 to play.
The Knights out-rebounded the Aggies 44-25 and had 11-0 advantage in second chance points in the second half. Wilson tried to keep the Aggies in it with another 3-point basket. But Wilsonâ€™s three at the 8:02 mark would be the final field goal of the night for the Aggies as the Knights continued to pull away.
â€œThey got a great performance from their shooters â€“ Taylor and Sosa,â€™â€™ said Eaves. â€œBut see those kind of players and playing on this level was good for us. We were very evenly matched, we just ran out of steam at the end.â€
The Aggies jumped out to a 7-0 lead to open the game. The Knights came back and tied the game at 9 on a Taylor jump shot. The Aggies would score the next four points before Sosa would hit his first three of the game to move the Knights to within one. Another Sosa three gave the Knights their first lead of the game eight minutes into the contest.
An Ed Jones layup tied the game at 15, and a Wilson three gave the Aggies a three-point advantage. But the Knights went on a 7-0 run to take the lead for good in the game as they went into the locker room with a 47-39 lead.