A sluggish first half was too much for the Valparaiso men’s basketball team to overcome on Sunday afternoon.
The Crusaders totaled two field goals over the final 14 minutes of the opening half as Central Florida built a 23-point halftime lead and went on to win 90-62 in the Jackson Hewitt UCF Holiday Classic in Orlando.
The Knights closed out the first half on a 32-10 run over the final 14:25 to lead 43-20 at the break.
“We were getting several good looks in that stretch and didn’t make shots,” Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew said. “We had some wide-open layups and couldn’t make them.
“I can’t fault the guys for not trying, they just couldn’t get them to fall. We weren’t getting stops on the other end.”
Central Florida (8-3) scored five points in the final six seconds of the half.
Brandon Goodwin hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key, and Tristan Spurlock stole the in-bounds pass and was fouled with 2 seconds to go in the half. He made both free throws to give the Knights their largest lead of the half.
Valparaiso (8-6) was 1-of-10 on 3-pointers and 4-of-20 from the field in the first half, while Central Florida was 14-of-29 overall and 8-of-12 from behind the arc.
The teams traded baskets throughout the second half, with the Crusaders never coming closer than 21. The Knights led by as many as 32.
“We didn’t make enough stops to get back in the game,” Drew said. “It will be a good learning experience for our team. We learn from this and grow as a team.”
LaVonte Dority scored nine of his team-high 14 points in the second half for Valparaiso. Jubril Adekoya added 11 points, with nine coming in the second half. Keith Carter had six points and four assists in his second game in a Valparaiso uniform.
Spurlock scored a game-high 22 points to lead five Central Florida players in double figures. Goodwin scored 12, while Eugene McCrory added 11.
The Crusaders were 16-of-28 from the field in the second half, including 8-of-17 on 3-point attempts.