The storyline of revenge from their only loss in the conference could have been enough to make it interesting for this afternoon’s game for UCF Knights Women’s Basketball. But in hosting the Cincinnati Bearcats at Addition Financial in the penultimate game of the season, the Knights not only successfully carried themselves to a 21-3 record but clinched the top spot of the American Athletic Conference for 2021-22.
Over In One Quarter
The Knights came out charging. Guard Alisha Lewis hit the long three at the buzzer to end the opening quarter to conclude what was a 30-2 run for a 33-6 lead. Forward Brittney Smith scored 10 in the first half on the way to finishing with 16 on the day.
How did we get our most points in a quarter this season?— UCF Women's Hoops (@UCF_WBB) February 26, 2022
Like this pic.twitter.com/Kh4ZEVpTB6
The defense was smothering as the fullcourt press declawed the Bearcats early. UCF forced 15 turnovers and snagged nine steals before heading into the locker room ahead 42-11.
They continued to bring the heat to Cincinnati throughout the afternoon. Final defensive stats for the Knights boasted 22 takeaways, 12 steals, and 14 more rebounds than Bearcats finishing with 43 as a team.
Other featured performers for UCF in their highest single-game point total of the year include center Destiny Thomas who posted her second double-double on the season with 16 points and 12 boards. Guards Diamond Battles and Tay Sanders were also good for 12 and 10 points respectively.
History Already Made
In locking up the American for the first time in program history, this mark’s the first conference title for UCF in 17 years. Donning the freshly cut net from the rim during the postgame press conference, head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson tributes her squad's ability to handle historic success late in the season was key in achieving Saturday’s accomplishment.
While Thomas as the youngest starter on the was the biggest presence in the game, it was the seniors who helped make sure that the entire ship sailed as it did.
Not Done Yet
For all the excitement that the day brought for the ladies, their mission is far from over. Since Hoops Media Day in the preseason, players and coaches alike have declared an AAC tournament championship their main objective.
Having danced in celebration for beating #cincyhoops 74-39 to clinch the #AAC title, @battles_diamond and @masseny_ were ready to tell us that the season far from over. #GKCO #UCF pic.twitter.com/yVWE4GH8bf— Kyle Nash (@TheSoTG) February 27, 2022
Before the tournament, UCF has only one last “dress rehearsal” game heading into the postseason. They host the Tulsa Golden Hurricane at 6:00 EST on Wednesday. Coach Abe and Battles both agreed that using this upcoming finale for one last opportunity to perfect locking in and finding focus was the best bit of polish to apply to the squad before heading into tourneys.