Diamond Battles led the Knights with 13 points, but the story was UCF’s outstanding defense once again, which held Cincinnati to just 16/47 (34%) from the floor and did not allow the Bearcats to score more than 11 points in any quarter.
Battles posted the highlight of the night with this one-on-one fast break block in the first half:
The victory is a measure of revenge for UCF, which lost to Cincinnati in shocking fashion in the semifinals of the tournament last year, preventing UCF from getting another shot at UConn in the final. Had there been an NCAA Tournament, that loss may have prevented UCF from making the field as an at-large team. Battles spoke about that in the post-game press conference:
IImar’I Thomas, the recently-named American Athletic Conference’s Player of the Year, mustered just 13 points on 5/12 from the field, and nobody else for Cincinnati could pick up the slack. Afterwards, Coach Abe credited her guards for disrupting Cincinnati’s backcourt such that they couldn’t get Thomas the ball in rhythm:
The Knights won the rebounding battle 39-30, including an 18-11 edge on the offensive glass. This led in part to a 32-20 advantage in points in the paint for the Knights.
It’s a good thing they got those advantages, because UCF struggled in a few key departments, including foul shooting (8/21, 38%) and turnovers (16 for the game, although that’s one shy of their season average).
The Knights will take on Houston, who beat ECU late Tuesday night. The semifinal will be on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN+. UCF swept Houston in the regular season. The winner of that game will face the winner of South Florida and Tulane in the Championship.