After the tough road loss to the Auburn Tigers, UCF Knights Women’s Hoops hoped to bounce back to a seventh win on the season against the Seton Hall Pirates who were looking for payback from last year’s regular season contest. After beating the Georgia Bulldogs earlier in the year featuring several former UCF players under former UCF head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson, beating the Knights 63-56 assured the Pirates completely settled the score from last year.
Shooting Struggles for the Knights
In the first half, the Knights struggled shooting from the field going 9-of-31 and 1-of-11 from beyond the arc. Pirates forward Jala Jordan finished as the game’s top scorer with 18 points making all four of her first-half shots as SHU went into the locker room with a 36-26 halftime lead. Another factor for UCF’s early struggles was scoring only eight points in the second quarter.
OHH MY MYA pic.twitter.com/WVnUsk9iiY— UCF Women's Hoops (@UCF_WBB) December 11, 2022
UCF closed the gap late in the game after being down by as much as 15 including help from a six-point run to start the fourth quarter. During that final period, starting guard Mia Burns hit seven of her 15 points on the night, but it was too little too late to secure a victory.
Knights head coach Sytia Messer mentioned postgame that a big factor was the Knights struggling from the free throw line. 11-of-20 from the charity stripe with nine missed attempts represented more than the difference in the contest.
Breaking Records is her Destiny
While it would have been more fun for fans and players alike to see it in a win, UCF veteran center Destiny Thomas tied a school record for rebounds in a single game with 24. Moreover, her team-leading 16 points helped to secure a 5th double-double for the season. Not only is that already more double-doubles than she had all of last season, Thomas currently has more games hitting that mark than not.
Thomas said after the game that this team has come a long way for being so newly formed after all the offseason departures and that this game can be a learning experience to help them grow.
Knights Still Being Forged
After the tough losses to the Auburn Tigers and Seton Hall, UCF’s schedule doesn’t get any easier with a Wednesday road game in Knoxville against the Tennessee Volunteers before hosting the UCF Christmas Classic starting December 20th.
With that being said, coach Messer was adamant that recent struggles would not define this squad who is still working to form an identity. Messer, Thomas, and Burns alike spoke about the valuable lessons they’re learning on the fly and how much better a team that will make them heading into conference play in the American.