UCF Comeback Falls Short in Loss to Houston

Jan. 17, 2008

Box Score in PDF Format

Post-Game Notes

ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - Freshman UCF forward Emma Cannon (Rochester, N.Y.) scored a team-high 20 points and the Knights rallied from a 16-point second-half deficit Thursday, but were unable to complete the comeback in a 74-61 loss to Houston in the New UCF Arena.

The Knights (7-10, 0-4 Conference USA), who trailed the Cougars (9-9, 3-1) 36-25 at intermission were down by as many as 16 points (42-26) early in the second half before going on an 18-4 run that gave UCF its first lead of the second half at 46-45 with 10:23 remaining. With Houston leading by just five, 62-57, with 3:46 remaining in the game, the Cougars used a 9-0 run over the next 2:19 to put the game away.

"We had a stretch where we were down 16 points and I was very proud of the way we fought back tonight," UCF head coach Joi Williams said. "We knew that Houston wouldn't be a team that would come in and quit. They have some very savvy, experienced guards. We didn't get stops when we needed to and I think that was the key to the game tonight."

UCF, which struggled offensively in the opening period by shooting just 22.9 percent (8-of-35) from the floor and committed 13 first-half turnovers, turned up its defensive intensity in the second half. The Knights committed just six second-half turnovers and limited the Cougars to 35.3 percent (12-of-34) shooting in the game's final period.

"At one point, we had a stretch where we played very aggressively on the defensive end," Williams said. "We got stops and we converted. We had good offensive possessions. We only had six turnovers in the second half, which is fantastic. That was the difference in the run. We talked to our team about how if you want to win games, you have to play defense. We made that run because of our defensive effort."

Cannon, who eclipsed the 20-point plateau for the second time in her career, provided a spark off the bench for UCF. Cannon recorded her eighth double-double of the season - the second-most of any Knight this year - by tying her career high with 15 rebounds to complement her 20 points. Freshman guard D'Nay Daniels (Atlanta) followed in the scoring column with 11 points, while adding seven rebounds. The Knights have placed at least two players in double-figure scoring in each of their 17 games this season.

Freshman forward Tia Lewis (Poulan, Ga.), who entered the game as the nation's second-leading rebounder, finished with 15 boards and seven points. Junior center Jackie Akers (Cape Coral, Fla.) made her second start of the season and recorded three blocks. It marked the third consecutive game in which she has blocked three or more shots.

UCF finished the game shooting 32.4 percent (23-of-71) from the field, while Houston shot 37.9 percent (25-of-66) for the game. The Knights have held five of their last six opponents to 45 percent shooting or less. UCF, which entered the game leading C-USA in rebound margin, out-rebounded the Cougars 51-50. The Knights have won the rebound battle in 12 contests this season, including three consecutive.

Houston scored the first five points of the game before the Knights rallied to come within three, 7-4. From there, UCF went on a 5-2 run that tied the score at 9-9 on a basket by Cannon at the 12:19 mark of the opening period. After another tie at 13, UCF scored five of the game's next six points to go up 18-14 after a pair of charity shots by Cannon with 8:51 remaining in the stanza.

With the Knights leading 20-16, the Cougars' Ryan Bradley and Whitney James hit back to back baskets with the last coming at the 6:45 mark to tie the score at 20-20. Leading 26-25, Houston closed the half on an 8-0 run over the period's final 4:20 to take a 36-25 advantage into the locker room at intermission. UH scored 14 points off of 13 UCF turnovers in the opening period.

The Cougars opened the second half on a 6-1 run that put Houston ahead 42-26 with 16:34 remaining in the game. Daniels nailed back-to-back jumpers to cut UCF's deficit to 12, 42-30, at the 15:50 mark of the final period. Akers connected on a basket at the top of the key to spark a 8-0 run by the Knights that allowed them to whittle their deficit down to six, 44-38, and force the Cougars to burn a timeout with 13:29 remaining.

Out of the break, the Knights extended the run to 13-0 after a three-point play by Cannon and a three-pointer by Daniels from the right wing with the shock clock expiring. That streak knotted the score at 44-all with 10:59 left in the game. A basket by senior guard Amber Long (Irmo, S.C.) gave UCF its first lead of the second half at 46-45.

Twiggy McIntyre led the Cougars with 22 points, while Courtney Taylor added 12 points and 10 rebounds.

UCF returns to action Sunday when it travels to Houston to take on Rice. Tip-off in Sharp Gymnasium is scheduled for 3 p.m. EST and fans can follow all of the action live on UCFAthletics.com with Scott Adams.

For the latest news and information on the Knights, tickets or apparel log on to www.ucfathletics.com - the official site for UCF varsity sports. Also check out UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pictures.