Knights Show Heart in Thrilling Defeat at Marshall


Jan. 14, 2012

Final Stats

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By Doug Richards

Box Score in PDF Format

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (UCFAthletics.com) - A year ago, UCF entered the Cam Henderson Center and walked into an arena filled with Marshall fans who did all that they could to support their Thundering Herd. UCF fell behind big early and never recovered as the Herd coasted to a huge win.

On Saturday, UCF again played in a venue packed with some less than hospitable fans, and the Knights went down again in the first half. But unlike last season, this UCF team refused to give up. The end result was a heartbreaking 65-64 defeat to Marshall, but the thrilling contest was filled with plenty of positives for the Knights.

The Knights, who saw their five-game winning streak come to an end, had the chance to win the game with four seconds left, but Marcus Jordan's layup attempt came up short.

The loss was the first C-USA defeat for UCF (13-4, 3-1 C-USA). The contest, which was played in front of 8,379 spectators, featured 13 lead changes and seven ties.

Marshall (13-4, 4-0) led for much of the second half, but the Knights grabbed a 64-63 advantage with 49 seconds to play when Keith Clanton tipped in a Jordan miss. After the Thundering Herd were unable to score and Jordan missed a free throw, Clanton was called for his fifth foul on a driving DeAndre Kane. The Herd guard made both foul shots to give the hosts a 1-point edge with 14 seconds on the clock.

After Jordan's miss, UCF junior center Josh Crittle grabbed the rebound beneath the basket, but was stripped of the ball.

"That was a great college basketball game," UCF head coach Donnie Jones said. "It had two really good teams. Marshall made big plays down the stretch. We had opportunities in the game. We had the right guys taking the shots, but they didn't go down."

UCF trailed by seven points with just under five minutes to play, but the Knights stayed in the game thanks to buckets from Tristan Spurlock and Isaiah Sykes. Clanton scored inside with 2:05 to play and his basket cut the Herd's edge to one point.

"I just think that we didn't give up," Clanton said. "Last year, we would have given up. We kept our heads up strong."

The opening half featured nine lead changes and six ties. Marshall grabbed the biggest advantage of the half, eight points, with under a minute to play, but the Knights got a big 3-pointer from Kasey Wilson to cut the Herd's edge to 37-32 at the break. Wilson banked in the triple with four seconds on the clock.

The contest served as a homecoming for Jones. A West Virginia native, he was Marshall's head coach from 2007-10.

Clanton led the Knights with 14 points and also added eight boards. Spurlock came off the bench to total 12 points and five rebounds and Sykes finished with 10 points and eight rebounds.

UCF shot 42.1 percent overall and 25.0 percent from deep. Jordan, who entered the contest averaging over 16.0 points per game, had an off night and finished with nine points on 3-of-17 shooting. During the second half, he became the 16th 1,000-point scorer in UCF history.

Kane led Marshall with 16 points.

UCF will face another challenge Wednesday when the team hosts C-USA power Memphis. Tipoff at the UCF Arena is scheduled for 8 p.m.

The Tigers are the defending C-USA Tournament champions, but the Knights learned Saturday that if they stay together and never give up, good things will happen.

"We'll take from this and we'll learn from this," Jones said. "I was proud of how our guys competed. It was a great atmosphere. Our guys had a chance to win the game, and that is where you want to be when you play these types of games."