Tulane tried hard to end a five-game losing streak on Thursday at Fogelman Arena. However, Central Florida point guard Daiquan Walker stood in the way at every turn.
Walker scored 33 points, as the Knights turned back the Green Wave 70-62 in an American Athletic Conference game.
“Daiquan was really comfortable in what we were doing,” Central Florida coach Donnie Jones said. “We were looking for mismatches in what we were trying to run. We were down one player in (injured shooting guard) Adonys Henriquez, so I asked Daiquan to step up.”
The loss was the 10th in 11 games for Tulane (8-16, 1-10). Central Florida (11-9, 5-4) ended a three-game losing streak.”
The Knights set picks on the perimeter that usually resulted in a bigger Tulane player switching to guard him. He exploited that with 11-of-16 shooting, including 6-of-8 3-point shooting in reaching his career high.
“It was a good win for us on the road,” Jones said. “We have been having some injuries and had lost a few.”
Tulane had its chances, though, The Green Wave fought back from what had been a 40-28 lead at the start of the second half to one point three times, the last 57-56 with 4:43 remaining. Walker, though, personally kept the Wave at bay.
With 4:07 left he stole an errant pass and went in for a layup, giving the Knights a 59-56 lead. After a Tulane turnover, he nailed a 3-pointer. Then, with 2:27 showing, he lobbed the ball to center Staphon Blair for a dunk and a 64-58 lead.
Tulane still had a chance, getting to 64-62. However, Walker dribbled the clock down from 1:10 to 50 seconds then set up Rasheed Davis for a 3-poitner with 45.5 seconds left.
Tulane had taken a 14-13 lead at 12:20 of the first half on a pull-up jumper in the lane by Malik Morgan. However, that’s when things got rough.
Central Florida responded with a 19-5 run to the 5:30 mark in which it sank five 3-pointers, including two by Walker. Four Knights hit 3s during the run, which producted a 33-19 lead.
The Wave came back behind point guard Louis Dabney, who scored six of his eight points after that. Two Dabney drives and an up-and-under move by Dylan Osetkowski that resulted in a three-point play brought Tulane to 33-26 with 2:50 left.
However, Walker, who had 20 points in the half and was the only double-figure scorer, drove for a basket and made a 3-pointer that pushed the margin to 12 with 1:41 showing. UCF led 38-28 at halftime.
Tulane was even in nearly every category with the Knights. However, UCF shot 14-of-27, including 7-of-14 on 3s. That more than offset the Wave’s 22-10 advantage of coring in the lane.