Knights Give No. 19/25 UTEP A Scare Before Falling 89-74


Feb. 24, 2008

ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - The UCF women's basketball team rallied from a 15-point halftime deficit to come within four points of No. 19/25 UTEP in the second half Sunday, but the 2007-08 Conference USA Champion Miners hung on for an 89-74 win in the New UCF Arena.

The game marked the final regular-season home contest for the Knights (9-18, 2-12 C-USA) in the 2007-08 campaign. Senior guard Amber Long (Irmo, S.C.), senior student trainer Mallory Greathouse and senior manager Lindsay Olschewski each were honored prior to tip-off for their invaluable contributions to the UCF women's basketball program during their time as undergraduates.

"This was a tough game for us," UCF head coach Joi Williams "We came out in the first half and dug ourselves a bit of a hole that we had to get out of. When you dig a hole like that, you've got to play near-perfect basketball to get out of it. We had our opportunities, but UTEP is a good team and they are going to take advantage of your mistakes. I was proud of the way we fought back, especially in the second half."

The Knights trailed the Miners (23-2, 14-0 C-USA) by 17 points, 56-39, with 16:39 remaining in the game before UCF scored 13 consecutive points over the next 3:30 to cut its deficit down to four, 56-52. Freshman guard Marshay White (Rochester, N.Y.) had five points during the run and four different Knights scored in that stretch. After UTEP pushed its lead back out to six, 60-54, UCF again came with four, 60-56, on a Jackie Akers (Cape Coral, Fla.) basket at the 11:21 mark. From there, the Miners scored seven unanswered points to go up 69-58 and the Knights were never able to get any closer than seven points the rest of the way.

"That run was sparked by our defense," Williams said. "We were playing a zone at that point in the game, and we came down and got stops. We blocked out, we didn't give them second shots, they missed some shots and we were able to get stops. That's the bottom line. Our team is slowly starting to see that defensive stops are what are going to make us successful. That keyed our run, and we really had some people step up big during that run. We did the right things in the second half offensively, we just didn't get the stops that we needed after that third media timeout of the second half."

White led four Knights in double-figure scoring, tying her career high with 23 points. White tied her career high with three three-pointers, going a perfect 3-of-3 from long range. She also brought down four rebounds and came up with two steals in 34 minutes of action. Freshman forward Tia Lewis (Poulan, Ga.), who entered the game as the nation's fourth-leading rebounder, added 15 points and brought down a squad-best eight rebounds. Lewis, who played a full game for the third time this season, has led the team in rebounding a team-high 20 times this year. She now has 305 rebounds on the season, which moves her into sole possession of fourth place on the school's all-time single-season rebounds list.

Freshman forward Emma Cannon (Rochester, N.Y.) scored 12 points and came up with a career-high six steals, the most of any UCF player in a single game this season. Cannon, who has scored in double figures in eight of her last nine games, was a perfect 8-for-8 from the free-throw line and she has now hit 11 consecutive free throws dating back to the team's Feb. 17 game at East Carolina. Freshman guard Chelsie Wiley (Riviera Beach, Fla.) also scored in double figures for the fourth consecutive game with 11 points. Wiley was a perfect 2-for-2 from the charity stripe and has now made eight consecutive free throws dating back to that ECU game last weekend.

The Knights shot a season-best 85 percent (17-of-20) from the free-throw line after shooting 80 percent (16-of-20) from the charity stripe in Friday's win against Tulane.

"We work on our free throws quite a bit," Williams said. "We try to put our players in situations in practice where they are under pressure, and we have a few drills that are designed to do that. We've gotten better over the course of the year. I think they understand that free throws are very important and I'm proud of their concentration from the line today. Emma Cannon was 8-for-8 from the line and that's outstanding. We had a great night from the free-throw line, we just have to get there a little bit more."

The Knights shot 43.3 percent (26-of-60) from the floor in the game and won the rebounding edge, 33-32. UCF has won the battle of the boards in 17 games this season. UTEP shot a blistering 56.7 percent (34-of-60) from the floor and out-scored the Knights 50-26 in points in the paint.

UCF hung tough with UTEP to begin the game as the Knights were within six, 21-15, at the 13:20 mark of the opening period after a pair of free throws by Wiley. From there, however, the Miners scored 11 consecutive points to take a 17-point, 32-15, lead on a jumper by sophomore guard Jareica Hughes with 10:55 left until intermission. UTEP held a double-digit lead for the remainder of the first half, taking a 45-30 advantage into the locker room at halftime.

The Miners and Knights traded baskets to begin the second half, before a jumper by Tasha Marisett gave UTEP a 56-39 lead with 16:39 left in the game. A lay-up by Wiley, however started UCF's 13-0 run that brought it back into the game.

Hughes led five UTEP players in double figures with a game-high 23 points and nine assists. Kasia Krezel and Natasha Lacy followed with 15 points apiece for the Miners.

UCF returns to action Thursday, Feb. 28, when it travels to Birmingham, Ala., to face UAB. Tip-off is slated for 8 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.