ORLANDO — USF guard Shemiye McLendon stood at the free-throw line in overtime on Wednesday with the Bulls' fate resting in his hands.
The junior, who was sent to the line after being fouled with 0.8 seconds left as he dribbled past halfcourt, didn't feel the weight of the situation. With the score tied at 78, he knew all he needed to do was to concentrate on making one shot.
With one flick of his wrist, McLendon did just that, as USF escaped with a 79-78 win over UCF at CFE Arena.
"There's no pressure; if I miss we're going to another overtime. If I make it, we'd win," said McLendon, who finished with three points and six assists. "I just (went) out there and focused and hoped to make the shot, and that's what I did."
McLendon was fouled by Kasey Wilson after John Egbunu blocked a driving layup attempt by Isaiah Sykes that could have won the game. McLendon missed the second free throw, and Calvin Newell's full-court shot banged off the back iron.
Despite holding a 41-32 edge on the boards and stringing together several leads, the Bulls (12-11, 3-7 American Athletic Conference) struggled to pull away.
After leading by as much as seven in the second half, UCF (9-11, 1-8) wouldn't give up. Led by Sykes (24 points, 12 rebounds), UCF wore down the Bulls defense and took a 69-68 lead with 1:04 left on Sykes' layup.
That's when USF forward Victor Rudd stepped up. After Wilson missed a free throw, the senior grabbed the rebound and drove the length of the court, hitting a layup with 10.2 seconds left to force overtime.
In overtime, Rudd scored eight of USF's nine.
"I just had to take the game over," said Rudd, who finished with 25 points. "I felt like we shouldn't have been in that predicament anyway. … I felt good with my shot. I didn't take too many jumpers (Wednesday night), but I think I hit all my jumpers. It just felt good."