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UCF Women’s Basketball’s Run Ends in NCAA First Round

Knights head into next season with a lot of questions to answer after program-best campaign

UCF Women’s Basketball Derek Warden

The 12-seed UCF Knights Women’s Basketball team saw their season end in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Coral Gables after a 60-45 loss to 5-seed Arizona State.

The loss ends the best season in program history at 26-7, culminating in the first at-large NCAA Tournament bid in school history.

We’ll get to what this means, but first, the highlights:

Now, let’s get to the brass tacks:

Greatness starts somewhere

This was still the best season in program history, regardless of division, and that says something. It’s the third straight 20-win campaign for Coach Abe in as many seasons, and to pull off what this team pulled off this year is something that cannot be taken away.

While they didn’t win a conference title (even though they got some hardware), there’s no denying that UCF Women’s Basketball is clearly back on track after some eight years without making the NCAAs.

But...

There’s a lot to replace

Seven seniors in the regular rotation, in fact. And that’s a LOT of production going away:

2018-2019 Senior Production

Player Min Pts Reb Ast Stl Blk
Player Min Pts Reb Ast Stl Blk
Nyala Shuler 959 127 217 44 43 21
Sydnee McDonald 779 220 84 35 35 8
Kayla Thigpen 723 287 73 32 44 11
Jamesha Paul 536 134 71 43 32 1
Tolu Omokore 381 88 100 8 17 4
Lawriell Wilson 376 85 56 30 17 4
Fifi N'Dour 177 41 49 5 10 12
TEAM TOTAL 6625 2018 1195 374 327 96
PERCENTAGE 59.3% 48.7% 54.4% 52.7% 60.6% 63.5%

All-conference selection Kay Kay Wright is returning along with key role players Masseny Kaba, Diamond Battles and Brittney Smith, and the Knights will add Jaylen Williams, who was a senior transfer from Penn State. But on the whole, this roster is going to look very different in 2019-2020.

So as good a job as Coach Abe has done in her first three years, Year #4 will likely be her most difficult coaching job yet.

Let’s pour one more out for the seniors

From seven wins in their first year coming out of Conference USA and into The American to a school record 26 wins in their last, this team had a heavy lift, and they accomplished a lot.

Now, in the next phase of UCF Women’s Basketball, we will see exactly how strong the foundation that they laid is.