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Atlantic Sun Notebook

February 3, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Atlantic Sun Conference Notebook

by Kristy Shonka

Belmont, Troy State Sit Alone Atop Standings

With Belmont’s last-second win at the University of Central Florida, the Bruins remained in the top spot in the Atlantic Sun Conference North Division and allowed Troy State to claim sole possession of the South Division lead.

Troy State (17-4 overall, 8-1) and UCF (15-7, 7-2) went into last week tied for first with 6-1 conference records. While the Trojans played North Division basement dwellers Campbell and Gardner-Webb, UCF squared off against division leading Belmont (12-9, 7-2). The Knights led for most of the game Thursday, holding as much as a 12-point lead in the second half, but three consecutive three-pointers by Belmont’s Steven Drabyn tied the score at 53 with 5:11 to play in the game.

Wil Howard-Downs’ layup with 27 seconds left gave the Bruins a three-point lead, but UCF’s Ray Abellard hit a three, his only field goal of the game, with 12 seconds left to tie the game. Then Belmont’s Brian Collins drove the ball up the court where a host of UCF defenders met him, but the freshman found teammate Jason Sonn alone under the basket and Sonn’s shot fell as time expired, giving the Bruins a 60-58 win. The loss was the first conference loss for UCF on its home court, and extended Belmont’s A-Sun road record to 5-0. The Knights played the game without their top defensive player, Marius Boyd, who sat out after suffering a concussion in the Knights’ game against Georgia State.

The 1-8 Gardner-Webb Bulldogs almost upset Troy State on Thursday, but blew a 10-point halftime lead and the Trojans won 61-60. The Trojans’ Greg Davis was fouled on a three-point shot attempt as time expired and his third free throw gave TSU the one-point win. It was the seventh time this season the Trojans have rallied from a halftime deficit and the fourth time they’ve done so when trailing by double figures. Rob Lewin grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds for the Trojans.

Troy State took care of Campbell (4-15, 1-8) with relative ease on Saturday, winning 100-75, assuring itself at least a one-game lead on the Knights. UCF made sure to keep it one-game as the Knights held off Samford 58-52 Saturday night in Orlando. In a game that matched up the A-Sun’s two best defenses, the Knights proved why theirs was the best. They came up with three big blocks in the final two minutes of the game to prevent a Bulldog comeback. Junior Dexter Lyons had two of the blocks, one on a layup that would’ve cut the lead to three with 1:46 left to play and one on a three-point attempt that would have cut the lead to two with 33 seconds left in regulation.

Florida Atlantic’s Struggles Continue

Defending Atlantic Sun Champion Florida Atlantic (5-16, 1-8) has struggled all year to find wins and is dangerously close to missing this year’s conference tournament. The Owls are 1-8 in conference and are in last place in the South Division.

Last week, the Owls dropped a 73-53 game to Samford and a 76-69 game against Belmont. The Samford loss was FAU’s eighth consecutive loss to the Bulldogs. FAU trailed 33-13 at the half.

The Owls only have seven games left, meaning they would have to win out in order to finish with a .500 conference record. FAU’s next three games are against fellow bottom dwellers Gardner-Webb, Campbell and Stetson, but its last four games are against the top four teams in the South Division (Jacksonville, Mercer, Troy State and UCF). The Owls lone conference win came Jan. 20 against Stetson. The Owls’ final three games are at home, where they were 7-1 against the Atlantic Sun last season.

Jacksonville Will Have Two More Games Televised

Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast (CSS) will air two of Jacksonville’s road games in the coming weeks beginning with Thursday’s game against North Division leading Belmont. The game will start at 9 p.m. CSS will also show the Dolphins game against Georgia State in Atlanta on Feb. 18. That game will begin at 7 p.m.

Games of the Week

Thursday night’s top match-up comes as Georgia State (10-9, 5-3) travels to Troy, Ala., to face the South Division leading Trojans. The Bulldogs sit behind Belmont in second place in the North Division. The game pits Troy State’s No. 1 scoring offense up against the conference’s top scorer, GSU’s Nate Williams. Williams averages 17.7 points a game. The Trojans will look to maintain its one-game lead over Mercer (13-5, 7-2) and UCF, as the Panthers look to stay hot on Belmont’s heels.

UCF should have an easier time at Campbell on Tuesday night, while Mercer will get Jacksonville State (12-7, 5-4) at home Thursday night.

Georgia State has a tough week ahead, as the Panthers’ second game is Saturday on the road at Mercer. The Knights again should have an easier game as they look to remain in the hunt for the South Division crown. CFU hosts Gardner-Webb. Troy State hosts Jacksonville State in a Saturday night game.


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