Alula Nuguse | Staff Reporter
In a significant game for Cincinnati’s NCAA tournament hopes, the Bearcats suffered a heartbreaking loss to UCF in a double overtime thriller on Wednesday night.
Early in the game, Bearcats redshirt-senior Tre Scott continued his hot shooting with a couple of dunks. Scott scored 12 points within the first 10 minutes of the game.
After a hot start to the game offensively, Cincinnati began to struggle getting good looks.
UCF took advantage of the Cincinnati’s struggles, battling back into the game and cutting the lead down to one point.
During this stretch, Cincinnati went five minutes without a made shot from the field.
Towards the end of the first half, turnovers became problematic for the Bearcats, keeping UCF in the game.
During the last two minutes, Jaevin Cumberland hit a three to extend the lead to 10 points for the Bearcats, but UCF cut it down to five to end the first half.
Early in the second half, Chris Vogt committed his third foul which forced Bearcats head coach John Brannen to run a smaller lineup.
UCF started the half hot, tying the game at 41. Then, on yet another turnover by the Bearcats, they took their first lead of the game with 16:30 remaining in the game.
Jarron Cumberland’s struggles continued early in the second half, shooting only 2-8 from the field.
As the second half continued, turnovers piled up for Cincinnati. UCF took advantage of the mistakes and extended the lead to eight points, leading 59-51 with under nine minutes of play.
Cincinnati battled back to stay in the game, with a couple of key plays from Jarron Cumberland including an and-one and a nice assist to Keith Williams for a dunk.
With under two minutes left in the half, Jaevin Cumberland hit a huge three to cut the deficit to just a single point.
Following the three, Vogt blocked a layup, leading to a rebound by Williams and a coast-to-coast take, which resulted in a foul and two made free throws to take the lead, 68-67.
After a single made free throw for UCF, Scott made a huge layup to take a two-point lead with under 30 seconds remaining. However, UCF junior guard Brandon Mahan tied the game with a layup.
Jarron Cumberland missed a potential game winning jump shot, which took the game to overtime.
UCF controlled the first three minutes of overtime , boasting a three-point lead over the Bearcats. Jaevin Cumberland responded with another big 3-pointer to tie the game at 76.
Brandon Mahan responded with a layup and a couple of free throws, and the Bearcats were staring at another three-point deficit with less than 20 seconds left.
But once again, Jaevin Cumberland hit a big three-pointer off a pass from Mika Adams-Woods. Mahan missed a jumper to win the game in the following possession, resulting in double overtime.
Within fifteenseconds of the start of double overtime, Jarron Cumberland hit a corner three.
Following a turnover by Scott, a controversial blocking foul was called on Mika Adams-Woods, leading to a pair of big free throws for UCF to cut the lead to a single point for Cincinnati.
UCF guard Tony Johnson Jr. made a go-ahead layup with about a minute left in the game.
A missed layup and tip shot for Williams gave the Knights the ball back. But a smart double team by the Bearcats led to Johnson Jr. elbowing Adams-Woods for an offensive foul.
Jarron Cumberland missed a tough floater for the lead, and UCF took a timeout shortly after.
Once again, Cincinnati got a break and forced a five-second violation. However, Cumberland missed another go-ahead shot.
Cincinnati quickly fouled, but UCF only made one of the two free throws. Down by two with just 1.2 seconds left, Jarron Cumberland somehow made an amazing half-court heave, but it was deemed after the buzzer. It didn’t count, and the Bearcats took a gut-wrenching loss.
UCF gained an impressive road win and the Bearcats have taken yet another hit to their tournament hopes. With tough games against Wichita St. and Houston still remaining on the schedule, it will definitely be a close call for the Bearcats to go dancing again this year.