Jan. 31, 2009
NEW ORLEANS - - Junior guard Kevin Sims led four Tulane players into double figures with a team-best 21 points, but UCF's Jermaine Taylor scored a game-high 28 points and his three-point play with 1:30 remaining in overtime proved to be the difference as the Knights escaped Fogelman Arena with a 79-74 Conference USA victory.
For the second straight home game, Tulane (9-11, 3-4 C-USA) needed an overtime period to determine the outcome. Last week, the Green Wave dispatched Tulsa, 76-75, in overtime. On Saturday, TU had the ball and 12 seconds remaining in regulation and a chance to win the game, but junior Eric Vianney's three-pointer at the buzzer missed its mark and the team's headed into the extra session.
Following a turnover by UCF (15-6, 5-2 C-USA) on its first overtime possession, Sims knocked down a three-pointer to give the Wave a three-point advantage, 67-64. Isaac Sosa regained the lead for the Knights on the ensuing possession and the remainder of the overtime stanza turned into a free throw shooting contest. UCF hit 11-of-13 from the free-throw line, while Tulane was just 3-of-5.
Senior Daniel Puckett tied the game at 68 apiece when he hit the back end of a his two shots, but A.J. Rompza was fouled by Sims on UCF's next possession and he knocked down both of his shots, giving the Knights a 69-68 lead with 2:08 remaining. However, the difference in the game proved to be Taylor, who hit a lay-up and was fouled by sophomore Kris Richard. Taylor connected on the free-throw for the conventional three-point play and gave the visitors a four point lead.
Puckett drew Tulane to within a bucket with his lay-up at the 1:18 mark, but the Wave never got any closer, and UCF finished 7-of-8 from the charity stripe in the final minute.
Tulane looked to have the game in hand near the midway point of the second half. Sims converted a rare four-point play with 13 minutes remaining when he was fouled in the act of shooting a three-pointer by UCF's Taylor Young. Despite the foul, Sims' shot found its mark and he nailed the free three for a four-point play that gave the Wave a 48-40 lead. TU would extend its lead to 54-44, its largest of the game, on two free throws from Asim McQueen at 11:16.
However, UCF rallied behind a 13-3 spurt and held the Green Wave to without a field goal for nearly nine minutes, and was able to tie the game at 57-all on a Sosa jumper with 4:47 remaining in regulation. Sims' drive and lay-up at 3:20 was TU's first field goal since sophomore Johnny Mayhane's jumper off a Sims assist at 11:55.
The teams traded baskets down the stretch and Sims scored the final points of regulation when he tied the game at 64-64 on a pair of three throws, but neither team could find its offense in the final minute.
"I am very proud of my team today," TU head coach Dave Dickerson said. "I thought we gave a valiant effort. We played hard and gave ourselves a chance to win against a very good team. The difference in the game was Jermaine Taylor, and the second part was when we were up by 10 points in the second half and we just couldn't extend our lead. I thought our bench was great and I am proud of our effort, but it just wasn't our day. But, I do believe we took a step forward today even though we lost the game."
Along with Sims, Vianney finished with 17 points, while Puckett added 14 points. Richard finished with 11 points on the day before fouling out in overtime. Tulane controlled the boards by outrebounding UCF, 40-34, but the Knights fared better from the field, hitting on 45.9 percent of its attempts, while the Wave managed a 36.5 percent effort.
Despite the loss, Sims surpassed a milestone against UCF. He finished with five assists on the day, which gave him 310 for his career, and moved him into 10th place among the school's career assists leaders.
UCF also had four players finish in double figures, including Rompza with 13 points, while Sosa chipped in 12 points and A.J. Tyler contributed 10 points. Tony Davis grabbed a game-best 12 rebounds.
The first half was a fast and furious period with each team shooting better than 50 percent from behind the three-point line, and the first 20 minutes featured nine lead changes and six ties.
Vianney paced the Green Wave with 15 first half points, while Richard came off the bench and gave TU a spark by hitting all four of his field goal attempts. Tulane led by as many as seven points at the 12:16 mark, but Taylor and Rompza kept the Knights in the game with a combined 25 of the team's 34 first half points. Taylor, who entered the game averaging more than 23 points per game this season, proved his marksmanship by knocking down 4-of-6 treys and led UCF with 16 points, while Rompza, a point guard, hit 4-of-5 of his shot attempts.
The teams battled back-and-forth the entire 20 minutes, but Vianney drained his third trey of the half with 35-seconds remaining in the period to give the Green Wave a 36-34 advantage at intermission.