Women's Basketball Falls Just Short in OT


Jan. 31, 2008

ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - Freshman UCF guard Angelica Mealing (Decatur, Ga.) nailed an off-balance leaner from just inside the half-court line Thursday to send the game into overtime, but the Knights fell just short in the extra period in a 77-75 loss to Marshall in the New UCF Arena.

The Knights (8-12, 1-6 Conference USA) trailed the Thundering Herd (12-9, 4-3) by four, 64-60, with 1:03 remaining in the game before freshman forward Emma Cannon (Rochester, N.Y.) connected on a lay-up and hit a free-throw to bring UCF within one, 64-63, with 31 seconds left. After Marshall's Meg Withrow made one of two shots, Cannon snatched down the rebound, but misfired on a pass that sailed into the press-row table.

Senior Amber Long (Irmo, S.C.) quickly fouled Melody Hudson who made her first free-throw. Freshman forward/center Tia Lewis (Poulan, Ga.) grabbed the rebound of the second shot and handed off to Mealing, who dribbled inside the half-court stripe and launched a three-pointer that banked off the backboard and went in to knot the score at 66-all.

The two teams battled evenly in overtime until the Knights, who trailed by one, 75-74, with 1:36 left were unable to convert on a basket at the other end and struggled to foul any Marshall player. Lewis finally corralled Conference USA steals leader Casey Baker, who made the first of two free throws. The Thundering Herd got the rebound out of bounds on the second try and Baker nailed another free-throw. After Baker missed her second shot, Marshall fouled Chelsie Wiley (Riviera Beach, Fla.) to avoid another mid-court hoop, and the Thundering Herd were able to hang on for the win.

"Overall, I am really proud of our effort tonight," UCF head coach Joi Williams said. "We have kind of been on a roller coaster. We had a great game against Rice and then we came back against Southern Miss and kind of took a few steps backwards. We challenged our team this week in practice to take steps forward and really start to focus in on the things that we need to do to win games. I'm just proud of our effort tonight and how well our team carried out the game plan. Unfortunately, we came up a little short, but we had a lot of great effort by everybody that played tonight."

The Knights were led by Cannon, who recorded her ninth double-double of the season with 19 points and 12 rebounds. She was 7-of-10 from the floor and blocked a career-high three shots. Lewis recorded her team-leading 13th double-double of the season, which ties her with Southern Miss' Pauline Love for the league lead in double-dips, with 14 points and 10 rebounds. It marked the sixth time that Cannon and Lewis have recorded double-doubles in the same game for UCF.

Freshman guard Marshay White (Rochester, N.Y.) added 14 points and was a perfect 6-for-6 from the free-throw line, tying her career-high in charity shots made, while Wiley chipped in 12 points and tied her career-high with five assists. Junior center Jackie Akers (Cape Coral, Fla.) had two blocks in the game, marking her sixth consecutive game with two or more blocks.

The Knights shot 44.8 percent (26-of-58) from the floor in the game, but committed 27 costly turnovers - their second-most miscues of the season - which resulted in 27 Marshall points. The Thundering Herd, who shot 48.3 percent (29-of-60) from the field, won the rebound battle 40-34.

"Turnovers have really been a nemesis for us all year long," Williams said. "We just have to learn that those critical things can bite you late in the game and that's what happened to us tonight. We had 17 turnovers in the first half, and that's way too many. They [the team] know that and we'll come out against East Carolina and do a better job because we are going to face another opponent that is very active on the ball. We will have another opportunity on Saturday to get better in that area."

UCF broke out to an early 8-4 advantage to begin the game thanks to four points by White. Marshall, however, battled back with a 17-0 run over the next 4:20 that included six points by Alyssa Hammond to take a 21-8 lead with 11:58 to go in the half. The Knights went cold from the floor during that stretch, going just 1-of-6 during the Herd scoring streak.

From there, UCF went on an 8-2 run over the next minute-and-a-half that was capped off by back-to-back three-pointers by Wiley and Caldwell to come within five, 23-18. Two consecutive baskets by the Thundering Herd allowed Marshall to push its lead back out to nine, 27-18, with 8:40 left until intermission. The Knights then used an 8-0 run over the next 3:48 that included baskets by four different players to come as close as one, 27-26.

Marshall took a 36-28 advantage into the locker room at halftime after shooting an impressive 57.1 percent (16-of-28) from the floor in the opening period. The Knights shot 40.0 percent (10-of-25) from the field in the first half, but committed 17 turnovers.

UCF stormed out of the halftime locker room on an 11-2 run. The last five points of the run came from Cannon, who gave the Knights their first lead of the second half at 39-38 on a runner with 15:32 to play. The two teams fought evenly for the next five minutes before the Thundering Herd made three consecutive baskets to go back up by five, 54-49, with 9:04 left. From there, UCF scored five consecutive points and knotted the score at 54-all on a pair of free throws by Cannon with 6:14 remaining. Marshall and UCF would continue to trade baskets to set up the late-game heroics.

Marshall had five players score in double figures, led by Baker and Meagan Samis, both of whom tallied 13 points.

UCF returns to action on Saturday when it plays host to East Carolina. Tip-off in the New UCF Arena is slated for 5 p.m. EST and the game will be carried live on UCFAthletics.com with Scott Adams.

UCF will play host to the 2008 Conference USA Women's Basketball Tournament, March 6-9, at the new UCF Arena. Single-game and session ticket packages are now available. Call the UCFAA Ticket Sales Office at 407-823-1000. 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.