- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 5, 2014

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Shemiye McLendon made a free throw with 0.8 seconds left in overtime to give South Florida a 79-78 win over Central Florida on Wednesday night.

Victor Rudd scored eight of the Bulls’ nine points in the overtime and finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds. Martino Brock contributed 17 points and seven boards for the Bulls (12-11, 3-7 American Athletic) and Chris Perry finished with 10.

Isaiah Sykes led UCF (9-11, 1-8) with 24 points and 12 rebounds. Matt Williams added 12 and Kasey Wilson had 11 for the Knights, who lost their sixth straight.

McLendon was fouled by Wilson with less than a second left as he dribbled the ball on UCF’s side of the court after John Egbunu blocked a driving layup attempt by Sykes that could have won the game.

“The foul call was legit,” USF coach Stan Heath said. “We had possession and our guy (McLendon) got knocked down as he was trying to get off a shot near halfcourt. It’s incidental contact, but it was contact. It’s an unfortunate play, but it was the right call.”

UCF coach Donnie Jones was more concerned with his team missing on opportunities to win at the end of regulation and overtime. Calvin Newell missed a 17-foot jumper as the buzzer sounded to end regulation and Sykes’ attempt to win in overtime was blocked.

“We had chances to win the game a couple of times so I’m not going to get caught up in calls,” Jones said. “It’s unfortunate it ended the way it did, but that is the way it’s going to go sometimes. We’ve been in tight situations a couple of times and we’ve got to learn from them.”

USF led 78-72 with 1:48 left in overtime after Rudd scored on a driving layup, but UCF rallied quickly.

A 3-point play by Calvin Newell and a 3-pointer from Williams tied the score with 55 seconds left. After a USF miss, the Knights ran the clock down under 5 seconds, but Sykes’ attempt to slip between three USF defenders resulted in a blocked shot.

“That was a huge play,” Heath said. “Isaiah was having his way in the paint with us and we finally got a stop we needed and converted that into a free throw to win the game.”

McClendon grabbed the ball and was fouled as he dribbled in the backcourt. He made one free throw and intentionally missed the second one.

UCF’s Newell rebounded and heaved a full-court desperation shot that banged off the back iron as the buzzer sounded.

The two sides showed their strengths and weaknesses early in the game. USF used its strength and size to dominate the paint, but the Bulls weren’t quick enough to cover the perimeter and UCF used the advantage to hang right with the Bulls, trailing just 37-36 at halftime.

Rudd opened the game for USF with a 3-pointer and the next nine Bulls field goals came on layups or dunks. The Bulls outscored the Knights 24-12 in the paint for the half and had four players - Egbunu, Brock, Perry and Rudd - each score seven points.

A layup by Brock gave USF a 32-26 lead with 5:13 left in the half, but that was as far as the Bulls could get away from a scrappy UCF team.

Sykes went over the Bulls’ big men to tip in a miss on the next UCF possession and drove through a big crowd in the lane for a layup that cut the deficit to one at halftime. UCF was 5 of 9 on 3-pointers for the half and shot 56 percent from the field (14 of 25). Williams hit all three of his 3-point attempts for nine points and Sykes added eight.

UCF missed its first four attempts from behind the arc in the second half and quickly changed tactics. The Knights started challenging the Bulls inside and Sykes kept his team close until Wilson finally drilled a 3-pointer to pull UCF within 58-55 with 8:39 left in the game.

USF used its size and strength to muscle UCF around the basket and control the flow. A runner by Zach LeDay gave the Bulls a 57-50 advantage with 9:48 left in the game, their largest lead of the game.

Sykes , who scored 16 points and had nine rebounds in the second half, rallied his team. The 6-foot-6 senior helped UCF take a 70-68 advantage with 40 seconds left in regulation, but Rudd hit a runner in the lane to tie the game with 10 seconds left in regulation.

Newell couldn’t hit a difficult jumper that would have won it at the buzzer and the game went to overtime.

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