THURSDAY, MARCH 04, 2004
Dolphins Fall To Second-Seeded UCF In A-Sun Tourney Opener, 71-63

March 4, 2004

Final Stats

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Senior forward Nolan McBride (Hartford, Conn.) scored a game- high 21 points and had four steals in his final collegiate game, while A-Sun Freshman of the Year Haminn Quaintance (Sarasota, Fla.) added 13 points and seven rebounds, but it wasn't enough to overcome four Golden Knights in double figures as the UCF held off the shorthanded Dolphins for a 71-63 win in the first round of the Sun Trust Banks Atlantic Sun Championship Thursday afternoon at the Curb Event Center. It was the third win this season for UCF (23-5, 17-3 A-Sun) over JU as the Golden Knights won their school-record 23rd game and their eighth consecutive A-Sun Tourney opener. The Dolphins (13-15, 8-12 A-Sun), who entered the 2003-04 season as the most inexperienced team in Division I, played with just nine players with absence of forward Jarred Stockton (Jacksonville/Arlington Country Day), who missed three of the final four games with a knee injury.

UCF will play the winner of No. 3 Belmont and No. 6 Mercer Friday at 8:15 p.m.

JU cut into a 40-30 UCF lead with a 10-3 run to pull within 43-40 when McBride stole a Marcus Avant pass and went in for the dunk with 10:44 to play in the game. Following a Golden Knight miss, McBride's floater in the lane, which would have gotten the Dolphins within one point, bounced out and UCF went on a 14-3 run over the next 5:04 to take a 57-43 lead with 5:40 remaining.

The Dolphins again answered with a 12-4 run and Quaintance's third three-pointer of the season cut the deficit to 61-55 at the 1:43 mark. JU got within six on two more occasions, but the Golden Knights hit 10-of-14 free throws in the final 1:25 to seal the victory.

Josh Bodden led UCF with 20 points, while senior All-Atlantic Sun center Roberto Morentin added 16 points and eight rebounds. Dexter Lyons also scored 13 points and had five assists for the Golden Knights, who had 17 assists on 24 baskets.

Sophomore point guard Aubrey Conerly (Calumet, Ill.) had nine points and eight rebounds for JU, which forced UCF into 19 turnovers and limited the Knights to just 5-of-18 shooting from outside the arc. David Lee (Columbus, Ga.) scored eight points, but was 0-for-6 from the three-point line.

After UCF hit the first basket of the game, JU raced out to a 16-10 lead when McBride hit a 15-footer with 9:55 to play in the half. The Golden Knights tied the game at 19-19 on a Morentin tip-in at the 6:53 mark and then UCF took the lead for good at 25-24 on a Bodden free throw with 4:46 to play in the first half. JU trailed 29-24 at the break.

The Dolphins lost for the seventh straight time in the postseason, despite having their highest postseason scoring output since a 75-70, overtime loss to Western Kentucky in 1998.

JU's 62 wins over the past four years is the best four-year span for the Dolphins since 1983-87, when JU won 67 games under former head coach Bob Wenzel.