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UCF Women’s Basketball Rights the Ship Against Tulane, 69-67

Knights battled back into first place thanks to Masseny Kaba’s best game of the season.

Diamond Battles drives to the hoop against Tulane.
Photo: Noah Goldberg

After Saturday’s road loss to the Cincinnati Bearcats, UCF Knights Women’s Basketball (13-3) returned home to Addition Financial Arena to get back to form. Hosting the Tulane Green Wave (11-7), the Knights charged on to secure the 69-67 nail-biter victory.

The Green Wave Swelled Early

The Knights struggled early scoring only nine points in the opening quarter while turning the ball over five times. Head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson started Shania Meertens in an effort to better combat the Green Wave’s offense as the highest-scoring in the American as of Wednesday. Heading into the 2nd quarter, the lead continued to build as Tulane gained their biggest advantage of the night at 13 during their longest run of the evening, 12-0.

Masseny Kaba Comes Up Big

For the first 12 minutes of the contest, the Knights were struggling. Part of it was mistakes and turnovers, but another element of it was players passing up on open looks to score. But it was then that team captain Masseny Kaba stepped up to the plate.

While Kaba is better known for her physical presence which got her three rebounds, four assists, a block, and a steal, she sparked the offense as well. Nine of her 17 points on the evening happened this quarter to help her squad stay in the contest down only 36-29 to Tulane at halftime.

Battles and Sanders Walk In To Raise the Bar

If you’re a UCF fan, you’ve probably heard this punchline or something like it.

The Knights veterans answered the call to surge back into the game thanks to guards Diamond Battles and Tay Sanders. They finished with 21 and 19 points respectively. Both were active down the stretch on the scoreboard — especially battles who lit up 13 points in the 2nd half.

It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that Battles hit a three-point shot that get her the lead for the first time since the opening quarter giving a chance for the Knights to have the last laugh.

Battles was UCF’s top shooter from beyond the arc in this one going 3-of-6. However, Tulane’s Dynah Jones and Moon Ursin had combined for 7-of-14. No wonder Jones turned in 20 points along with Ursin’s 17.

The Knights head on the road to face off against the Wichita State Shockers on Saturday at 1 pm EST before returning home to make up the Temple Owls game on Monday at 3 pm EST. Coach Abe talks about the advantages of playing with this busy schedule.

The Owls were supposed to play in Orlando earlier in January, but the game was postponed in compliance with COVID-19 protocols for Temple’s squad.