Knights Top Rice In Home Finale


March 1, 2008

Final Stats | Notes

ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - Junior guard Jermaine Taylor (Tavares, Fla./Tavares) totaled 20 points and senior guard Dave Noel (Boynton Beach, Fla./Boynton Beach) added 19 points to lift the UCF men's basketball team to a 68-60 win over Rice at the new UCF Arena on Saturday. The contest, which was played in front of 5,606 fans, served as the Knights' (16-12, 9-5 Conference USA) final home contest of the season.

During the contest, Taylor became the school's leading single-season scorer at the Division I level. He has registered 593 points in 28 games in 2007-08.

UCF lead for most of the game, but the Owls (3-24, 0-14) got within two points with 2:29 remaining in the contest after Patrick Britton hit a pair of free throws. Noel than nailed two foul shots and after a Rice turnover, Taylor drained a 3-pointer to push the Knights' edge to 63-56 and seal the win for the hosts.

"It was not a seamless game obviously... give a lot of credit to Rice. That is the way that they play. You just cannot put them away," said UCF head coach Kirk Speraw. "Our guys came up with stops at the end of the game that they needed to come up with and executed a couple of possessions there down the stretch."

The Knights led by 19 points two minutes into the second half and seemed in control until the 12-minute mark of the final stanza when the Owls began their comeback. Lawrence Ghoram hit a triple at the 12:05 mark, starting an 18-5 run that got Rice back into the game.

Ghoram recorded seven points during the spurt. Suleiman Braimoh capped the run for Rice with a layup with 2:57 left on the clock that cut UCF's advantage to 57-54.

Rice had the opportunity to get within a point after Noel made both of his free throws at the 2:27 mark, but Bryan Beasley threw the ball out of bounds looking for a cutting teammate.

The contest served as the final game in Orlando for UCF's five seniors.

The Knights led 39-23 at halftime after shooting 56.0 percent from the floor before intermission. Midway through the first half, senior guard Mike O'Donnell (Largo, Fla./Largo) sparked a 21-3 UCF run with a trey. UCF's defense limited the Owls to just three points during a seven-minute span.

UCF finished the game with a 38-26 edge on the glass. For the contest, the hosts shot 45.7 percent overall and 43.8 percent from deep.

The Knights shot 19-of-23 (82.6 percent) from the free-throw line.

Ghoram led all players with 23 points and Rodney Foster added 15 in the losing effort.

Rice shot just 36.8 percent overall.

UCF has two regular-season contests remaining. The Knights play at Houston on Wednesday evening.

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