Trojans hold off UCF

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 5, 2002

ORLANDO, Fla. – Ben Fletcher scored a career-high 25 points, 20 coming in the second half, to keep the Troy State men’s basketball team in first place in the Atlantic Sun Conference, defeating UCF, 64-58, at the UCF Arena on Saturday night.

Fletcher was 8-of-13 from the floor, going 2-of-4 from behind the arc, and going 7-of-9 from the free throw line, hitting his last seven in a row.

Lamayn Wilson scored 21 points, his sixth 20-point performance in conference play this season and the 15th of his career.

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"I thought the win against Jacksonville was a character win, but tonight was a big character win," said Troy State head coach Don Maestri. "It’s tough coming off a loss, especially after feeling like you gave one away against FAU. But it took a special effort from our team to come back and beat a team that had won five in a row."

The 58 points scored by the Golden Knights were the fewest points allowed by the Trojans this season, and the fewest since holding Mercer to 56 points on Feb. 17, 2001.

The first half began with both teams trading baskets before Troy State scored on two straight possessions to take a 17-13 lead on back-to-back baskets by Donnie Pemberton.

The Golden Knights would score the next six points to take a 19-17 lead. UCF’s Paul Reed capped the run by making one of two free throws.

The Trojans would answer back, going a 13-0 run, sparked by two Wilson three-pointers to put Troy State on top 30-19 with 3:21 left in the first half.

UCF would rally, outscoring Troy State 11-1 in the last three minutes, as Troy State went into the intermission leading by one, 31-30.

The second half began like a heavyweight fight, with UCF scoring in the opening minute to take a 32-31 lead on two free throws by Stephen Graham.

Neither team would score in the next four minutes before Fletcher began his second half scoring spree with a three-pointer to but the Trojans back on top, 34-32.

After Paul Reed’s putback gave UCF a 37-36 lead, Troy State would storm back, going on a 16-7 run to take a nine-point lead, 53-44, with just under five minutes left in the game. Fletcher sparked the drive, scoring six points in the run, all on drives to the lane, which opened up Wilson and Donnie Pemberton outside, who both hit three-pointers during the run.

The Golden Knights would cut the lead to three, 61-58, on a trifecta by Ray Abellard, but would get no closer, as the Trojans would hit 3-of-4 from the free throw line in the last 30 seconds to ice the win.

"Ben Fletcher really stepped up for us in the second half," Maestri said. "We changed our offense and got the ball to Ben and really made some things happen for us. Robert wasn’t playing as well, and Ben made some big contributions to go along with Rob Lewin, Herbert Evans and Lovell Craig off the bench."

Donnie Pemberton added 10 points in the win.

UCF was led by Abellard’s 14 points. Reed collected a double-double, scoring 10 points and pulling down 10 boards, while Stephen Graham scored 13 and Joey Graham added 12.

The Trojans come back home to face Belmont at Trojan Arena on Saturday, Feb. 9. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.