BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. - Junior Justin Rose scored 15 points off the bench, including a key basket with 30 seconds remaining, as the UCF men's basketball team escaped with a 58-55 victory over host Gardner-Webb in an Atlantic Sun matchup on Thursday evening at Porter Arena. UCF (20-8, 12-7 A-Sun) has claimed eight of its last nine games. Gardner-Webb falls to 15-11 overall and 12-7. The 15 points for Rose match a career high.
UCF led by one with under a minute left, but Rose drove for a layup to increase the margin to 58-55 with 30 seconds on the clock. T.J. McCullough had an open drive to the basket on Gardner-Webb's next possession, but junior Anthony Williams swatted the shot just near the basket.
Tim Jennings attempted to tie the game with a trey with five seconds to go, but his try was long and senior Kingsley Edwards tipped the ball away just before the final horn sounded.
Junior Josh Peppers added 14 points in the win. Senior Gary Johnson chipped in with 12 points.
The first half featured nine lead changes and three ties. The hosts led, 15-11, seven minutes into the contest, but Rose sank a three-pointer and connected on a jumper to hand UCF a one-point lead.
The Golden Knight advantage would grow to 10 after Peppers nailed a pair of free throws at the 3:28 mark.
McCullough made a layup at the buzzer and UCF led, 31-23, at the break.
Despite playing only 19 minutes due to foul trouble, Williams finished with 10 points. UCF shot 47.7 percent from the floor.
Gardner-Webb started the second half on a 17-7 run. A basket inside by Simon Conn handed the Runnin Bulldogs a 40-38 lead with 10:59 to play.
A trey by Brian Bender at the 7:07 mark gave Gardner-Webb a three-point advantage. The Golden Knights would counter, getting layups from Edwards and Rose to make the score 50-49, UCF.
Conn paced the Runnin Bulldogs with a game-high 18 points. McCullough added 12. The hosts shot just 34.7 percent overall and made just 3-of-18 attempts from behind-the-arc.
UCF concludes its regular season slate on the road on Saturday, visiting Campbell. Tip off is slated for 4 p.m.