It was a mental mistake, forward Anzhane Hutton said.
The junior forward had just been called for a backcourt violation with 8.5 seconds remaining in the UCF Knights’ women’s basketball team’s Sunday afternoon game against Wichita State. The Shockers would get the ball as they trailed, 57-56. One shot could give the Knights their fourth-straight loss in American Athletic Conference play.
“I didn’t know where I was on the court, but I couldn’t let my team down, so I had to find a way to finish the game,” Hutton said.
Hutton finished the game by securing the ball after Laila Jewett interfered with Wichita State’s inbound, followed by sinking two free throws that sealed the victory for the Knights (10-6, 1-3 AAC), 59-56.
Another Career High For Old Faithful
While Hutton’s late-game heroics preserved the Knights’ lead, it was Destiny Thomas that helped build it in the first place off the back of a career offensive performance.
En route to her 8th double-double of the season, Thomas pulled down 13 rebounds, but also scored a career-high 24 points. She got another career high by making 9-14 from the floor, the most field goals she’s ever made in a single game, and 6-9 from the free-throw line.
“We really went at our post players this week about who’s going to be the better in the bigs, in the paint,” head coach Sytia Messer said. “We really focusing in on, ‘Hey, we get it to you, you got to finish that,’ and Destiny has done a good job.”
Have a (career) DAY, Destiny‼️— UCF Knights (@UCFKnights) January 15, 2023
13 Total Rebounds
5 Offensive Rebounds pic.twitter.com/athbQ0jwvE
Sunday was the second time this season Thomas set the bar on her career high for points and most field goals made. Under Messer, Thomas’ offensive role has increased to the point that, after 15 games, she is just two field goal attempts away from matching her total from last season, 130.
“It’s different,” Thomas said. “It’s a different system, having to learn new people, but it’s fun. Getting to grow and support my team is pretty fun.”
An AAC Rebound
Off the heels of the team’s 80-42 loss to Houston, head coach Sytia Messer said the team had some tough, but also productive practices.
“I talked to my team about, we want to feel that loss so that you can get better, and so we did,” Messer said.
However, now with its first conference win out of the way, the team can look to make it back-to-back conference victories as the Tulane Green Wave come to town at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.
“As a team, we just needed to have a win under our belts so we can build our confidence,” Hutton said. “As a unit, we were feeling a little bit down, but now that we have this win, going into Tuesday, we’re feeling great about ourselves.”
The Green Wave ranks as the AAC’s No. 2 scoring offense and No. 4 scoring defense, while UCF ranks 8th and 7th in those categories respectively. In addition, Tulane brings with them the conference’s leading three-point shooter, Marta Galic, and free-throw shooter, Rachel Hakes.
“Tulane is a really good team, so we have to go back to the drawing board and prepare for what their defense and offense brings,” Thomas said. “We can prepare. We’re fine.”