Dawkins’ shooting touch lifts UCF to Myrtle Beach title

Charles Bassey and the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers started fast Sunday night in the finals of the Myrtle Beach Invitational.

But they couldn’t finish, as Aubrey Dawkins and the Central Florida Knights rallied for a 78-62 victory in Conway, S.C.

Dawkins, the son of UCF coach Johnny Dawkins, hit five 3-pointers and led the Knights with 21 points, four rebounds and four assists.

The game started as a battle between preseason favorites in the American Athletic Conference (UCF) and Conference USA (the Hilltoppers).

Also, it was an ESPN2 showcase of sorts featuring Bassey, one of the nation’s most prized freshmen, and 7-foot-6 UCF center Tacko Fall.

While Bassey steamed out of the gate with 15 points in the first 13 minutes of the game, Fall controlled the paint in the second half.

Using his imposing size, Fall bulled his way to 10 of his 13 points in the second half, including several dunks.

Bassey, so hot with his shooting touch early, appeared to get winded and missed some opportunities late.

One Bassey miss on a breakaway layup led to a UCF transition basket going the other way.

But, all in all, the 6-foot-11 freshman was dynamite, finishing with 25 points and 10 rebounds in only his fifth game in college.

First half summary

After Bassey’s initial explosion, Central Florida went to a zone defense to limit his touches.

It worked, allowing the Knights to get back into the game. But Bassey adjusted, as well, going strong to the offensive glass, and running the floor to catch passes on the fast break.

By halftime, Western Kentucky held a 32-28 lead, and Bassey had 18 points and seven rebounds.

San Antonio connections

Bassey, a native of Nigeria, played two seasons of high school basketball at St. Anthony in San Antonio. UCF coach Johnny Dawkins, a Duke graduate, played three seasons in the 1980s with the Spurs.