PARADISE ISLAND, BAHAMAS -- Central Florida went on a late run and handed the College of Charleston its first loss of the basketball season, 74-63, Thursday in the opening game of the Battle 4 Atlantis.
The Cougars (3-1) will next face UNC Asheville, which lost, 73-63, to defending national champion Connecticut, in a game that will be televised on HDNet at 7 p.m. today.
Charleston led by seven points with 11 minutes left, but the Knights rallied and tied the game at 53 with 8:39 left.
The Cougars, with high hopes after their road win at Clemson on Saturday, were unable to slow the Central Florida onslaught down the stretch as the Knights (3-1) continued to pound away.
Charleston had a number of issues it was unable to overcome. Senior forward Antwaine Wiggins, who was averaging 19 points going into the game, was held to only two points. Freshman center Adjehi Baru got into early foul trouble and played only 13 minutes. Baru finished with only two points and one rebound.
But the biggest problem was rebounding, with Central Florida emerging with a huge 44-25 edge in that department.
"That was the key to the game," said junior guard Andrew Lawrence, who had 14 points and 10 assists in the loss. "We missed two starters most of the game because of foul trouble, and down the stretch that really showed.
"I feel like we're moving in the right direction. This was a really good test to see where we are. The good thing about a tournament like this is we get a chance to play tomorrow."
Cougars coach Bobby Cremins said thought the door was open for Charleston when his team was ahead by seven points, but Central Florida hit a 3-pointer and it quickly closed.
"They are a very physical basketball team. Their big guys can shoot," Cremins said. "We learned a lot about ourselves. Antwaine Wiggins has been playing so well for us and he had a tough game. I hated to see him struggle like that.
"I thought for a while we played well, but you have to give Central Florida a lot of credit. They took control of the game, especially on the boards."
Charleston's top scorer was sophomore forward Trent Wiedeman, who had 19 points and shared rebounding honors with five. Sophomore Jordan Scott scored 10 points, while junior forward Matt Sundberg scored seven points and had five rebounds.
"They ... killed us on rebounds. That's what hurt us, a lot of second-chance points," Wiedeman said. "We have to move on from this loss because we can still win two more games."
Keith Clanton, a 6-8 junior forward, led Central Florida with 28 points and 14 rebounds.
Marcus Jordan, a 6-3 junior guard who is the son of basketball legend Michael Jordan, finished with 17 points.
UCF (3-1): Days 0-3 0-0 0, Clanton 12-17 2-3 28, McCombs 0-2 1-2 1, M. Jordan 5-9 5-6 17, Sykes 3-10 4-13 10, Spurlock 4-9 0-1 9, Gaynor 2-3 1-2 5, Wilson 0-0 0-0 0, Crittle 2-3 0-0 4. Totals-28-56 13-27 74.
COLL. OF CHARLESTON (3-1): Wiggins 1-6 0-3 2, Wiedeman 7-12 5-6 19, Baru 1-3 0-0 2, Lawrence 4-9 2-2 14, Scott 4-8 0-0 10, Sundberg 1-6 4-4 7, Johnson 2-2 0-1 4, Stitt 1-3 2-2 5, Carlton 0-2 0-0 0. Totals-21-51 13-18 63.
Halftime-UCF 33-31. 3-Point Goals-UCF 5-12 (Clanton 2-3, M. Jordan 2-5, Spurlock 1-1, Sykes 0-1, Days 0-2), Coll. of Charleston 8-23 (Lawrence 4-8, Scott 2-5, Stitt 1-2, Sundberg 1-5, Carlton 0-1, Wiggins 0-2). Fouled Out-None. Rebounds-UCF 44 (Clanton 14), Coll. of Charleston 25 (Sundberg, Wiedeman, Wiggins 5). Assists-UCF 16 (M. Jordan 6), Coll. of Charleston 15 (Lawrence 10). Total fouls-UCF 18, Coll. of Charleston 21. Technical-Wiedeman. Att-NA.