After handling business on Monday in a makeup game against the Temple Owls, UCF Knights Women’s Basketball (16-3) hosted the Memphis Tigers (13-7). After starting out down 10-2 in the middle of the first quarter, the Knights locked down the Tigers, 71-57.
Another Slow Start Snuffed Out
The Tigers bread and butter putting points on the board is getting to the foul line. However thanks to clean blocks and defense by post players Masseny Kaba, Destiny Thomas, and Britney Smith, Memphis didn’t get to the line in the first half. In fact, it was around the 6:30 mark in the 3rd quarter where the visiting team finally got to the charity stripe as the squad ranked 3rd in the conference in free throws made.
Before securing the 71-57 win, @UCF_WBB was down 10-2 to start. @battles_diamond talked about the spark that took #UCF to win the first quarter 17-15 and never lose the lead again. Battles also finished with a career-high 25 points. #GKCO #GoKnights @blackandgoldbanneret pic.twitter.com/i4VmNYn5Kq— Kyle Nash (@TheSoTG) February 6, 2022
Combine this with the Knights only giving up five points in the 2nd quarter while Kaba and guards Diamond Battles and Tay Sanders combined for 20 first-half points. That recipe got turned into an eight-point deficit in a 29-20 halftime lead for UCF.
Memphis did finish the game with 22 foul shots while hitting 14 taking advantage of the bonus in the second half, but UCF kept pace taking 25 free throws and knocking down 19.
Sharing is Caring
Head coach Katie Ambrahamson-Henderson has said that she expects to face zone defenses. The key to breaking zone is good ball movement to find the best shot. With that in mind, it’s no accident that there were double-digit scorers in both the front and backcourt for the Knights. Battles shined yet again posting a career-high 25 points with Sanders putting 11 points. In the paint, Kaba had 13 on the board while Smith was a heavy contributor in her own right as she scored 13 with 10 rebounds to secure the double-double.
After @UCF_WBB's solid win over #Memphis, 71-57, I asked @SmithhBrittney about her double-double performance. #GKCO #UCF pic.twitter.com/STxo0gZ8BE— Kyle Nash (@TheSoTG) February 6, 2022
Memphis had two players scoring in double digits as well with forward Alana Davis turning 16 and Madison Griggs light up 13. However, there were seven Knights that had points in the contest to help put UCF over the top.
A Tough Charge Ahead for the Knights
Saturday evening is the last time the Knights will be home until February 16th to host the Wichita State Shockers.
In the meantime, they have two challenging road games back-to-back where they have the opportunity to sweep other top competition in the American Athletic Conference. On Wednesday at 8:00 pm EST, the Houston Cougars play host to UCF. Then as an appetizer to the Super Bowl on Sunday at 2:00 pm EST, the second edition of the War on I-4 against the USF Bulls provides in-state rivalry at its finest.
With @UCF_WBB heading for a two-game road trip against talented #Houston and #USF teams, @COACH_ABE makes it clear that she will not look ahead on the schedule. It's hard to argue against her desire for focus. #GKCO #UCF pic.twitter.com/RdsBXTJ15R— Kyle Nash (@TheSoTG) February 6, 2022
Should the Knights win both games, they’ll have a commanding lead in the conference seeding. However, coach Abe won’t entertain looking beyond the Cougars on the schedule.