Mark DeCotis, Athletic Communications

Office:  321-433-5700, 321-759-4540 (C)

BCC Falls in State Tournament Finale, 63-58.

March 9, 2013 - The Brevard Community College men's basketball team's season came to a heartbreaking end on Saturday night in the championship game of the Florida College System Activities Association/NJCAA Division I tournament at Chipola College as the Titans fell 63-58 to the College of Central Florida.

BCC finished at 26-7 while Central Florida, the eighth-ranked team in the nation, improved to 30-3 and will move on to the NJCAA Division I national tournament in Hutchinson, KS.

Playing like a team worthy of its national status Central Florida kept 26th-ranked BCC off stride, limiting the Titans to 32.1 percent shooting from the floor (18 of 56) and 25 percent from three-point range (8 of 32). Central Florida also outrebounded BCC 44-28.

But what Mid Florida Conference champion Central Florida couldn't quash was BCC's spirit and toughness, intangibles that the Titans displayed throughout the season that saw them win their first Southern Conference championship since 2000.

BCC trailed by double digits in both halves and with 15 minutes and 8 seconds remaining in the game was down 14, 42-28.

But BCC didn't quit and got to within two, 55-53 on a Jure Gunjina basket with 2:39 to go. BCC had several chances to get closer but Central Florida clamped down defensively.

Part of the reason Central Florida was so effective was it was able to overpower BCC inside. BCC limited Central Florida to two three-pointers but surrendered 57 points inside the arc due in part to the absence of 6-foot, 10-inch center Gary Gaskins.

Gaskins played only 3 minutes and 37 seconds due to two early first-half fouls and a knee injury suffered moments into the second half.

Central Florida took advantage, forcing Gaskins' replacements Devontay Clark and Mike Kirkland to pick up seven total fouls. BCC was whistled for 21 fouls and Central Florida just 12.

Central Florida's inability to make free throws, it was 13 for 27 compared to 14 of 19 for BCC, allowed the Titans to hang around and they had several chances to draw even. BCC's refusal to buckle under had head coach Jeremy Shulman issuing effusive praise despite deep disappointment.

"I am so proud of my kids," he said. "It's the same characteristics that got us here in the first place, that mental toughness, that desire to win.

"It almost got us a game. Credit Central Florida. They were absolutely great, they always are. We didn't play well, we didn't make shots we normally hit.

"We got open looks. Unfortunately sometimes the ball doesn't bounce your way."

Shulman had special praise for sophomores conference player of the year and all-tournament team selectee Addison Spruill, all-conference honoree and all-tournament selectee Nyles Evans and Gaskins, all of whom also played for two seasons for BCC.

They were the nucleus of this season's team and left an impression Shulman won't soon forget.

"I may have to tear up thinking about not having the opportunity to coach them anymore," he said. "They have been so invaluable to this program, to me, to the college in general.

"I will remember those sophomores to the last day that I ever coach basketball."

Spruill finished with a team-high 17 points and Evans, playing on a tender ankle, finished with 10. Gunjina finished with 11 points.

For Spruill, his take away will be the entirety of the season.

"We had a great season," he said. "We fought all season, came far, but let it slip away at the end. We still fought hard to keep the season going but the ball just didn't bounce our way.

"I love this team. These guys are like brothers to me."

Center Eugene McCrory led Central Florida with 19 points and seven rebounds. Jordan Parks had 11 rebounds. Spruill had six rebounds for BCC and Gunjina five.