Knights Fall to Southern Miss at C-USA Championship


March 14, 2008

Box Score | Notes

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (www.ucfathletics.com) - Despite two Knights finishing with double-figures in scoring, the UCF men's basketball team fell 68-62 to Southern Miss in quarterfinal action at the Conference USA Championship on Thursday evening at FedEx Forum. The fifth-seeded Golden Eagles won despite a pair of 20-point plus efforts from senior guard Dave Noel (Boynton Beach, Fla./Boynton Beach) and junior guard Jermaine Taylor (Tavares, Fla./Tavares) of No. 4 UCF (16-15).

Taylor, who was held to five points in the first half, matched his career high for 3-pointers made in a game with six. He connected on five of his triples in the second half when he scored 20 of his game-high 25 points. Noel, playing his final game for the Knights, equaled his career high with 20 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the floor.

Taylor's final three of the game pulled the Knights within four at 64-60 with 1:45 to play, but that would be as close as the team would get.

Southern Miss (19-13) scored 20 of its 41 second-half points from the free throw line as UCF was whistled for 20 fouls after intermission. For the game, the Golden Eagles converted 23-of-36 from the charity stripe to secure a semifinal match-up with top-seeded and championship host Memphis on Friday.

"We struggled to stop them in the second half. It seemed like they were at the free-throw line an awful lot in the second half... we fouled too much," said UCF head coach Kirk Speraw. "We've just got to be better defensively than what we were."

The Knights were without the services of senior guard Mike O'Donnell (Largo, Fla./Largo) for the second-consecutive game after the team captain suffered an injury on March 7.

Noel kept UCF in the game early, scoring eight of the team's first 12 points.

Taylor gave the Knights a brief lead at 19-18 with his first 3-pointer of the game at the 4:45 mark of the first half. However, Southern Miss responded with the next eight points to build its largest lead of the opening half at 26-19. UCF made a mini-run to close the half, using a 3-point play from senior center Stanley Billings (Orlando, Fla.) and a lay-up from senior guard Chip Cartwright (Houston, Texas/Phillis Wheatley) to pull within 27-24 at the break.

Four Golden Eagles reached double figures in the game led by R.L. Horton's 18 points. Sai'Quon Stone had 10 of his 14 points for Southern Miss from the free throw line. Stone led the Golden Eagles with eight rebounds as they held a 31-24 advantage on the boards. Sophomore forward Tony Davis (Sarasota, Fla./Riverview) led UCF on the glass with seven.

Taylor, a second-team All-Conference USA performer scored 20 or more points for the 20th time this season and reached double figures for the 28th-consecutive time.

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