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Atlantic Sun Semifinals

March 8, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Atlantic Sun Semifinals

by Kristy Shonka

UCF upsets top-seeded Mercer

The fifth-seed UCF Golden Knights outscored Mercer 47-27 in the second half en route to a 79-59, earning the right to play for the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship and the league’s automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.

The teams went back and forth in the first half, with No. 1 Mercer holding the largest lead of the half at six points with 9:33. The Bears earned one-point leads twice in the first two minutes of the second half, but a basket by Dexter Lyons with 18:04 left in the game gave UCF the lead and the Knights never relinquished. Another basket by Lyons about eight minutes later gave UCF an 11-point lead and Mercer never cut the lead back to single digits.

Guard Ray Abellard led all scorers with 18 points for the Knights and forward Scott Emerson led Mercer with 17 points.

Troy State holds off Georgia State

The second-seed Trojans overcame a three-point halftime deficit to beat No. 7 Georgia State, 71-61. With the win Troy State advances to the championship game against UCF, which will be on ESPN2 at noon Saturday.

Georgia State was able to turn a six-point Trojan lead into a five-point lead (61-56), sparked by three consecutive three-pointers by Leroy Davis. But the Panthers didn’t score for the final 6:49 in the game.

Nate Williams scored 16 points in the first half for Georgia State, but managed just a free throw in the second half. He and Davis led the Panthers with 17 points. Forward Rob Lewin led Troy State with 15 points and 15 rebounds.

No. 2 Troy State faces off against No. 5 UCF

Troy State looks for its first tournament championship at noon Saturday against the surprising Knights. UCF was picked to finish second-to-last in the A-Sun South Division. The game is the second time in about two weeks the teams have met, with the Trojans beating UCF 77-72 Feb. 20 at the UCF Arena. UCF and Troy State split the regular season home and away series, with the Knights winning 76-61 up in Troy, Ala.

The Knights overcame a sloppy first half against Mercer to win handedly in the second half. The Trojans struggled with Georgia State until the final minutes. Look for the Trojans to be tired, while the Knights will be more rested after an early game. After all the early doubters, UCF has a mighty large chip on its shoulder that will only disappear with the championship.


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