Men: Central Florida earns ticket to NCAA

Associated Press
Published March 6, 2005

NASHVILLE - Gary Johnson made sure Central Florida left the Atlantic Sun Conference with another title.

Johnson scored 19 to help UCF clinch its second straight NCAA tournament appearance and fourth overall with a 63-54 victory over Gardner-Webb.

The Golden Knights (24-8), who have won 12 of 13, move to Conference USA next season.

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.

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.

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

FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL 69, ARKANSAS-LITTLE ROCK 64: Junior Matias had 26 as Florida International advanced to the semifinals of the Sun Belt Conference tournament for the first time in six years. Florida International (13-16) will play the winner of today's game between Louisiana-Lafayette and Middle Tennessee.

ECKERD 60, TAMPA 57: The second-seeded Tritons(20-9) came from behind to defeat the Spartans(18-11) in quarterfinal of the SunshineState Conference tournament in Miami Shores.

Steve Berg led Eckerd with 15. Tampa's Mark Borders had 17.

LYNN 61, SAINT LEO 57: The top-seeded Fighting Knights (24-5) advanced to the final of the Sunshine State Conference Basketball Tournament. Junior Sheldon Edwards led Lynn with 10 points and 13 rebounds. Marquis McCullough had 16 for Saint Leo.


IN THE NCAA FIELD: Winthrop will return to the NCAA tournament after a two years absence after beating Charleston Southern 68-46 for the Big South Conference title. Craig Bradshaw led the Eagles with 16 points, while James Shuler added 14 and Torrell Martin had 13 points and nine rebounds. ... Zach Ingles scored 15 and Eastern Kentucky earned its first berth since 1979 by holding off Austin Peay 52-46 in the Ohio Valley Conference championship. ... Chattanooga beat North Carolina-Greensboro 66-62 for the Southern Conference crown. Charles Anderson scored 13 points as Chattanooga reached its first NCAA tournament since 1997.