Knights make quick exit in C-USA tourney
Published: Sunday, March 13, 2011
Updated: Sunday, March 13, 2011 20:03
It was a short stay.
The Knights' dreams of crashing the Conference USA Tournament and perhaps earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament were short-lived as the Knights (19-10, 6-10) lost to East Carolina (18-14, 8-8) 75-60 on Thursday in the tournament's opening game in El Paso, Texas.
UCF shot lights out in the first half, going 59 percent from the field as they went into the half up 39-34, but that success didn't translate into the second half and East Carolina made the Knights pay.
"The second half we just couldn't score," said coach Donnie Jones in a release. "It's hard to go long periods without being able to score and overcome that."
Despite a promising hot start from sophomore forward Keith Clanton, who scored 11 of his 15 points in the first half, the Knights could not sustain their offensive efficiency in the second half and had no answer for ECU's Darrius Morrow and friends.
Morrow led the Pirates with 18 points. Jamar Abrams chipped in 15, going four-of-five on three pointers and giving UCF's perimeter defense fits.
Clanton's 15 points led the Knights. Isaac Sosa had 11 points, and Marcus Jordan, who had a slow start and struggled from the field, chipped in nine.
The Knights inability to score consistently hurt them as ECU went on run after run. UCF had cut the lead to four in the second half on an A.J. Tyler three-pointer that led to a timeout, but the Pirates immediately responded with a 12-2 run that put the Knights away.
In what was a roller- coaster ride of a season, it was a roller-coaster ride of a game. The Knights came out and shot the ball well and looked good, but a scuffle near the end of the first half that resulted in the ejection of UCF forward Dave Diakite seemed to affect the two teams adversely. ECU rallied afterwards and the Knights could not match the Pirates' intensity.
A once close game ended a blow out.
For UCF it was a crushing blow. For a team that had lost eight consecutive games earlier in the season, the Knights had certainly rallied down the stretch, winning five of their last seven contests.
Nevertheless, the chances seem good UCF will appear in some form of postseason play, most likely the College Basketball Invitational, giving the Knights one more chance to finish the season on the up-swing.
— Two Knights received C-USA honors this past week. Marcus Jordan was named to the All-Conference Second Team, and forward Keith Clanton was named to the All-Conference Third Team.
— If the Knights do make a postseason appearance it will give them a chance for a 20-win season. UCF is currently 19-11, and with another win it would make them just the fifth Knights team since moving to Division I to reach the win total.