After knocking off the Tulsa Golden Hurricane in the quarterfinals of the American Athletic Conference, the #25 UCF Knights faced the SMU Mustangs for the first time this season. The ‘Stangs were scheduled to host the Knights on January 19th but canceled the contest to adhere to COVID-19 protocols.
With only film and study to prepare for this semifinal, UCF head coach and Conference Coach of the Year Katie Abrahamson-Henderson and her squad advanced to the Final with a 61-28 smackdown.
The Knights Saddled Up Right Away
UCF got off to a fast start. While SMU led in rebounding 14-7 in the first quarter, UCF’s defense held SMU to 1-of-13 from the field in the first 10 minutes and a 15-3 lead after one.
SMU battled back in the second quarter, bringing it to 28-15 at the half. The Knights’ 12 points off of turnovers provided most of the difference heading into the locker room.
The Mustangs finished the game as a team scoring what UCF did in only the first 20 minutes — 28 points. This is the lowest amount the Knights allowed all season.
The Knights never trailed the entire game. UCF’s defense was as good as at any point this season, winning the turnover battle 22 to 7.
On the offensive end, eight different players scored, both inside and out. American Athletic Conference Sixth Player of the Year Brittney Smith came off the bench to deliver 13 points, while Conference Player and Defensive Player of the Year Diamond Battles dropped 11.
Masseny Kaba and Shania Meertens also finished in double figures with 10 points.
One Game from the Goal
Since Media Day back in November, both the players and coaches said they had one goal — win The American Tournament. The only remaining obstacle is their rivals, the USF Bulls, who defeated Houston in the semis.
UCF beat USF twice during the regular season. The third meeting between the two squads this season is for some additional hardware.
The American Women’s Basketball Championship between UCF and USF tips off at 9 p.m. ET Thursday night on ESPNU.