Scores

Final

UCF 63

(24-8, 13-7 A-Sun)

Gardner-Webb 54

(18-12, 13-7 A-Sun)

2:00 PM ET, March 5, 2005

Curb Event Center, Nashville, Tennessee

1 2 T
UCF 26 3763
WEBB 16 3854

Top Performers

UCF: J. Peppers 14 Pts, 6 Reb, 1 Ast, 4 Stl, 2 Blk

Gardner-Webb: S. Conn 15 Pts, 7 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Blk

Knights make consecutive tourney appearances

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Gary Johnson made sure Central Florida left the Atlantic Sun Conference with another title.

Johnson scored 19 points to help UCF clinch its second straight NCAA tournament appearance and fourth overall with a 63-54 victory over Gardner-Webb in the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament final on Saturday.

"It never gets old," UCF coach Kirk Speraw said. "As a basketball fan, you grow up thinking about the NCAA tournament."

The Golden Knights (24-8), who are 12-1 in their last 13 games, move to Conference USA next season after becoming the first Atlantic Sun team to ever win four conference tournaments despite only being in the league since 1992.

"We did an excellent job moving the ball and that pretty much opened the game up for us," said Johnson, a senior.

UCF held Gardner-Webb without a field goal for almost 12 minutes to turn a three-point deficit into a 15-point advantage.

Gardner-Webb (18-12) led by three with 9:13 left in the first half. But the Runnin' Bulldogs missed their last nine shots of the half as UCF reeled off a 15-2 run to take a 26-16 lead at halftime.

"When we were up 14-11, maybe I should have pulled the fire alarm and run," Gardner-Webb coach Rick Scruggs said. "We got the ball in the people's hands we wanted, the ball just didn't go in."

William Bakanowsky opened the second half with a 3-pointer for the Golden Knights and Anthony Williams added two free throws to make it 31-16.

"Their defense is relentless, and their offense is meticulous," said Brian Bender, who led Gardner-Webb with 17 points.

Gardner-Webb finally made a field goal with 17:27 left in the second half -- a span of 11:46 -- when Chris Gash hit a 3-pointer. Johnson left Gash open, but he answered with a 3 of his own to set a school record for 3-pointers in a season with 95.

"I tried to dive on the floor and get a loose ball, but they ended up knocking one down," Johnson said. "When we came back down on the other end, they missed a rotation and I just felt it."

The Bulldogs never challenged in the second half, trailing by double digits until the closing minutes. Simon Conn, a 6-foot-9 center from Australia, hit a 3-pointer to make it 59-52 with 36.7 seconds left to finish with 15 points and seven rebounds after averaging 25 points in the first two tournament games.

"We made it very difficult for him in the first half," Speraw said.

UCF's Josh Peppers finished with 14 points and Justin Rose added 11.

Gardner-Webb was eligible for the postseason for the first time since moving from Division II. In the Atlantic Sun tournament, the top-seeded Bulldogs won two games by a total of three points to reach the finals.

The Golden Knights, who became the first team to win back-to-back Atlantic Sun Conference titles since Samford did it in 1999 and 2000, also appeared in the NCAA tournament in 1994, 1996 and 2004, all under Speraw.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
UCF
WEBB
Points 63 54
FG Made-Attempted 20-46 (.435) 20-57 (.351)
3P Made-Attempted 6-16 (.375) 6-20 (.300)
FT Made-Attempted 17-20 (.850) 8-10 (.800)
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 13 (0/0) 19 (0/0)
Largest Lead 19 3

2004-05 Season

DATEGAMELINKS
Dec 2, 2004 WEBB 67, @UCF 55Recap
Feb 24, 2005 UCF 58, @WEBB 55Recap
» Mar 5, 2005 UCF 63, @WEBB 54Recap