It feels good to be back.
The past week of UCF Knights sports saw one team begin its season, another team going for the national title, and another team continues its success in conference play. Plus, we name the Knight of the Week and the Knights Play of the Week in your latest Knight Cap for Thursday, January 20, 2022.
School and Personal Records Broken as Track and Field Begins Indoor Season
The UCF Track and Field team opened its indoor season last weekend in Clemson, South Carolina.
The meet was the first time sophomore Rayniah Jones has represented the Black and Gold on the track since the 2020 Olympic Trials this past June.
Jones set new indoor personal bests in all three events she competed in.
She ran an 8.19 time in both her 60-meter hurdle preliminary heat and in the final en route to a 6th place finish overall.
She ran a 7.36 in her preliminary heat in the 60-meter dash, which was already a personal best on its own, and then topped it in the Final, posting a 7.32 to finish 7th overall.
Her 24.01 time in the 200-meter run netted her an 8th place finish overall.
Other highlights from the meet include:
Junior Charlotte Crook set a new personal best and broke the UCF record for the Indoor 1,000-meter run with a 2:52.20, which got her 5th-place overall. The previous record, a 2:56.37 by Karen Kozub, has stood since Feb. 2, 2007.
Four Knights, junior Jasmine Scott-Kilgo, freshman Leiya Green, senior Brittany Floyd, and sophomore Kiara Lee, reached the final in the Long Jump, finishing 3rd, 5th, 8th, and 9th respectively. While freshman Asherah Collins did not make the final, she, Scott-Kilgo, Green, and Lee all set personal bests in the event.
Freshman Lillian Holtery and Camryn Williams marked their indoor debuts by finishing in the Top 10, 4th and 9th respectively, in the One-Mile run.
Freshman Kiah Williams got personal bests in the 300 and 400-meter runs, finishing 12th and 2nd respectively. Her 400-meter time, 54.46, also set a new UCF freshman record, unseating Lizzie Harris’ 55.18 she ran on Feb. 2, 2008.
Freshman Natalia Madison, in her U.C.F. debut, cleared 1.65m (5 ft. 5 in.) for a new personal record and an 8th place finish in the High Jump.
Stay Tuned for Knight of the Week
The team travels to Blacksburg, Virginia this weekend for the Hokie Invitational.
Women’s Basketball extends conference winning streak
The UCF Women’s Basketball team continues its winning streak to open conference play this week, with wins over Houston and No. 24-ranked USF.
Thanks to the team’s Wednesday game with SMU being postponed, the team has to wait to take its 12-2 overall record (4-0 AAC) on the road until Saturday.
The team’s game with Cincinnati is slated to tip-off at 2 p.m. on ESPN+.
Men’s Basketball rebounds from USF loss with comeback OT win over ECU
The UCF Men’s Basketball team reached .500 (3-3) in conference play after a roller coaster of a week.
(For all the details about the team’s 74-64 win over Memphis last Wednesday, check out Kyle Nash’s article)
After struggling the past two games, @UCF_MBB needed a win over @Memphis_MBB to climb back into the #AAC race. They pulled it off, 74-64. @TheSoTG examines some of the "how". #GKCO #MEMvsUCF https://t.co/5zRbzuMwly— Black & Gold Banneret (@UCFBanneret_SBN) January 13, 2022
(For all the details about the team’s 75-51 loss to USF on Saturday, check out Andrew Gluchov’s article)
(For all the details about the team’s 92-85 overtime victory against East Carolina on Tuesday, check out Eric Lopez’s article)
Now armed with an 11-5 overall record (3-3 AAC), the team returns home to host Tulane on Saturday at 2 p.m., which will be aired on ESPNU, before traveling out to Wichita, Kansas to play the Shockers at 8 p.m., which will be streamed on ESPN+.
Cheer and Dance Teams snag Top 10s in UCA Nationals
The UCF Cheerleaders fell short of a 4th national title, finishing in 5th-place Sunday night in the Division 1A National Finals.
The team came 6.2 points behind the National Champions, the USF Bulls, who won the title for the second consecutive time this year.
THE RESULTS ARE IN:— Bryson Turner (@itsBrysonTurner) January 17, 2022
Despite having the highest raw score of the Finals (94.2), @UCF_CheerTeam finishes in 5th place with an event score of 87.7.
They finish 6.2 points behind USF, who wins its second consecutive national title tonight. #UCF https://t.co/DpAM1E9j2I pic.twitter.com/GUWEDmo6KR
Earlier that day, the UCF Dance team placed 7th in the Division 1A Hip-Hop Dance National Finals, the highest finish in the category in team history. The feat unseats 2008 and 2010 when the team came in 8th place.
This year also marks the first time the team has made the finals since 2014.
#UCF Cheer/Dance Update:— Bryson Turner (@itsBrysonTurner) January 17, 2022
Head coach Joyce Winter and @UCF_KnightMoves get 7th place in the Division 1A Hip Hop Dance Finals, the highest finish in team history.
This was the 1st time since 2014 the team has made the Finals in Hip Hop and unseats 2008 as the team's best finish. pic.twitter.com/IjwAUYxqgQ
The team was not so fortunate in the Division 1A Jazz Competition. With an 18th place finish, the team fell four spots and 1.4333 points short of the Finals.
Unfortunately, the dance team fell short of the Final in the Division 1A Jazz Competition.— Bryson Turner (@itsBrysonTurner) January 16, 2022
The team earned a 99.95 raw score and a 86.913 event score, which placed them in 18th.
The Top 14 made the final. pic.twitter.com/bHoZUcnSf2
Men’s Tennis falls in dual match opener
The No. 11-ranked UCF Men’s Tennis team avoided a sweep, but still lost at home to No. 8 Georgia, 6-1, to open the dual match season.
The afternoon began with Georgia taking the doubles point thanks to the Bulldog’s No. 21-ranked pair, seniors Trent Bryde and Phillip Henning, beating juniors Bogdan Pavel and Lleyton Cronje, 6-4, and Knights seniors Alan Rubio and Kento Yamada falling to junior Erik Grevelius and senior Blake Croyder (6-3).
The matchup of UCF junior Trey Hilderbrand and freshman JC Roddick and Georgia graduate students Hamish Stewart and Tristan McCormick went unfinished, halted with the score at 5-5.
Georgia takes the doubles point, looking to bounce back in singles!— UCF Men's Tennis (@UCF_MTennis) January 17, 2022
In the singles matches, Pavel was the only one to get a point for the team thanks to his victory over Georgia’s freshman Miguel Perez Pena in a 10-point tiebreaker 3rd set (4-6, 7-5, 10-4).
As for the rest of the team, No. 16-ranked Hilderbrand fell to No. 62-ranked Bryde (6-3, 7-6 (7-3)), No. 23-ranked Henning beat Cronje (6-2, 6-1), Yamada lost to McCormick (7-5, 6-3)., and Roddick rebounded in the 2nd set, but ultimately fell to No. 110-ranked Croyder (6-2, 7-5).
Rubio did take No. 32-ranked Stewart to a 3rd set, but the Bulldog managed to emerge victorious (4-6, 6-3, 6-7 (0-7).
The team will have to regroup before heading to Gainesville on Sunday to take on the No. 3-ranked Florida Gators at 12:30 p.m.
Milton and Schneider’s Team Aina falls short in Hula Bowl
Former UCF Knights McKenzie Milton and Cole Schneider took the field in the Bounce House one final time in the Hula Bowl.
However, the duo’s team, Team Aina, fell short of Team Kai, 21-20.
Milton was Aina’s starting quarterback and played through the first quarter, leading the drive that got the team’s first score: a 52-yard field goal from Wake Forest kicker Nick Sciba.
Schneider also started the game, playing left guard. He was substituted in and out of the game around every other drive.
Milton returned midway through the 4th quarter to the admiration of the UCF fans in attendance and attempted to lead a game-winning drive for Team Aina.
However, an interception by Virginia safety Joey Blount sealed the game for Team Kai.
Milton said on the Black and Gold Banneret Podcast that he is “still in the mindset of a player.”
Later that day, in Camping World Stadium, OL Marcus Tatum and DT Noah Hancock competed on the National Team in the Tropical Bowl. Their team fell short to head coach Todd Littlejohn’s American Team, 24-14.
Two more UCF Knights players will have their chance to catch the eye of NFL Scouts in upcoming senior bowl games. WR Brandon Johnson is slated to play in the NFLPA Bowl in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 29 on NFL Network. A few days later, DL Big Kat Bryant is slated to play in the East-West Shrine Bowl in Allegiant Stadium on Feb. 3 at 8 p.m., also on NFL Network.
The 2022 NFL Draft is slated for April 28-30.
Knights Play of the Week
Alisha Lewis, Women’s Basketball
Diamond Battles and Tay Sanders may have dominated the Knights’ scoring in the UCF Woman’s Basketball team’s 67-51 win over USF, scoring 19 and 18 points respectively, but it’s the third double-digit sorcerer that night, junior guard Alisha Lewis, that gets this week’s honor.
Lewis went 4-11 on the game, two of those baskets coming from beyond the three-point line. She also got half of the team’s eight steals.
However, the highlight of her game came early in the second half, with 7:37 remaining in the third quarter. To that point, Lewis only had one 3-pointer and a free throw to her name offensively.
She was being guarded by Bulls junior Elisa Pinzan, and this happened…
…and from one more angle…
The step-back field goal put the Knights up 41-22 over the Bulls and kept the momentum in Knight hands going into the second half.
Knight of the Week
Latasha Smith, Track and Field
Sophomore Latasha Smith started her Indoor Season with a bang this weekend.
She competed in three events this weekend:
300-Meter Run: Led the Knights with a 6th place finish and set a new personal best at 37.81
400-Meter Run: Smith took home the gold with a new personal-best 53.16, over a full second faster than the runner-up, her own teammate Kiah Williams. The mark also broke the UCF Indoor Record for the event, unseating Ashley Jocelyn’s 53.45 she ran on Feb. 29, 2016. It also currently sits as the 3rd-fastest indoor 400-meters a female collegiate athlete has run this season.
4X400-Meter Relay: Smith ran the anchor leg for her team (Samiyerah Bradwell, Williams, and Kai’lyn Kirkland), finishing off a 3:41.76 time that got her team 4th-place overall.
Smith’s performance in the 400-Meters alone would have been enough to earn her place as this week’s Knight of the Week. However, she proved to be the undeniable choice after she also anchored her team to a Top 5 finish and earned another personal best.