A.J. Rompza sinks game-winning shot with 3.8 seconds left
Published: Sunday, February 27, 2011
Updated: Sunday, February 27, 2011 17:02
The shot that may well define this season for the UCF Knights wasn't drawn up the way it happened, but it led to a stunning 65-64 win over Southern Miss.
Down two points with less than 10 seconds left, a missed free throw was rebounded and pushed up the floor by Marcus Jordan, the player most would've expected to take the last-second shot.
Jordan already had 20 points, 12 of which had come in the second half. But Jordan ran into a double team and gave up the ball to A.J. Rompza, who to that point had not made a field goal.
He hit the go-ahead three pointer with 3.8 seconds left.
"I kept telling myself if I got the ball I was going to knock down the shot," Rompza said.
"I didn't want to pass it to him," Jordan laughed.
It was UCF's second consecutive win over a team atop C-USA's standings, and the Knights (18-9, 5-9) fourth win in their last five games, as this roller-coaster ride of a season continues.
"Even when we were losing some games I said ‘We're getting better,' " said head coach Donnie Jones.
The Knights trailed by as many as 10 early in the second half and found themselves down nine, 59-50, midway through the half. That's when the Knights rattled of a 10-0 run, capped by an A.J. Tyler three pointer that caused the crowd of 7,402 to explode, as UCF went ahead 60-59.
Tyler played a huge role for the Knights, scoring 14 points and hitting four big three pointers.
"He definitely played with confidence, he didn't really second-guess himself," Jordan said.
Southern Miss (21-7, 10-4) responded with two quick buckets and things didn't look good for UCF with time ticking away. But the Knights responded, scoring another five unanswered points, effectively ending the game on a 15-5 scoring swing.
Though the win did little for UCF's positioning in the conference standings, what it did do is help continue to build some momentum as the Knights inch closer to the C-USA Tournament in El Paso, Texas.
While UCF's sole hope of getting into the NCAA Tournament is to win C-USA, something not so farfetched considering the Knights have beaten two of the league's top teams in the past week, UCF can also hope for an invitation to other postseason tournaments, including the NIT.
"People remember how you start, and they remember how you finish," Jones said.
With two games remaining and sitting at 18 wins, the Knights are also on the cusp of another achievement, a 20-win season. It would be the program's first since 2006-2007, when the Knights went 22-9 and 11-5 in conference.
UCF's final home game is Wednesday against Southern Methodist at 7 p.m. It will be senior night for Knights Tom Herzog, A.J. Tyler and Taylor Young.