Rompza's Big Shot Helps Knights Close Regular Season with Win


March 6, 2010

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By Doug Richards

HOUSTON (UCFAthletics.com) - A.J. Rompza (Chicago, Ill.) certainly did not play his best Saturday afternoon at Rice. Fortunately for the Knights, the sophomore guard stepped up when it mattered most.

With the score tied at 59 with 1:09 to play, Rompza drained a 3-pointer that gave UCF (14-16, 6-10 Conference USA) a three-point lead. The Knights then clamped down defensively, holding the Owls (8-22, 1-15) scoreless the rest of the way to post a 66-59 victory at Tudor Fieldhouse.

"That play was designed for Marcus," UCF head coach Kirk Speraw said of Rompza's triple. "We did a good job of being patient and A.J. hit a big shot for us."

The Knights shot 56.8 percent overall, and won their regular-season finale despite turning the ball over 22 times. Junior guard Taylor Young (Orlando, Fla.) led the Knights with 14 points.

Next up for the Knights is the league tournament, which begins Wednesday in Tulsa, Okla. The Knights' will play at 9:30 p.m. Eastern at the BOK Center. UCF has secured the ninth seed at the tournament and will meet either Houston or SMU.

The second half featured five ties and four lead changes. Freshman guard Marcus Jordan (Chicago, Ill.) gave the Knights a 59-57 lead with 2:14 to go after hitting a free throw. UCF stopped the Owls on the ensuing possession, but junior forward A.J. Tyler (Palm Harbor, Fla.) had his outlet pass stolen by Connor Frizzelle, who then scored a layup to tie the contest.

Speraw elected to not call a timeout after the Owls tied the game, and Rompza proved him correct when he hit the triple. The Knights closed the contest by making four foul shots in the final minute. Jordan shot 7-of-12 at the line for the game and totaled 12 points.

"It is always tough to win on the road, especially in March," Speraw said. "Our guys made big plays when it matted, and you have to commend them for that."

The Knights committed 15 opening half turnovers, but took a 32-25 edge into intermission thanks to their 63.2 percent shooting effort. Sophomore forward P.J. Gaynor (Jacksonville, Fla.), who entered the contest averaging 4.9 points, scored eight points and had three boards in the first 20 minutes of the game.

Frizzelle kept Rice in the game early, draining two 3-pointers and scoring 11 points in the first half. He finished with a game-high 19 points.

UCF concluded the contest with a 33-27 edge on the glass. Tyler led all players with nine rebounds. Rompza scored seven points and had four rebounds and four assists.

For the latest news on the Knights, log on to UCFAthletics.com - the official site for UCF varsity sports. The site, which also contains ticket and Golden Knights Club donor information, is also the home of UCF's new online apparel store. Also visit UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pictures.