John Denton's Knights Insider: No. 3/3 Notre Dame 85, UCF 52


Dec. 29, 2009

Box Score

By John Denton

No. 3/3 Notre Dame at UCF
Dec. 29, 2009
Orlando, Fla. (UCF Arena)
Team 1st 2nd Final
ND 44 41 85
UCF 29 23 52

No. 3/3 NOTRE DAME (11-0)
MALLORY, Brittany 6-11 4-7 16; BARLOW, Ashley 5-10 4-4 15; DIGGINS, Skylar 4-10 4-5 12; SCHRADER, Lindsay 5-6 1-2 11; BRUSZEWSKI, Becca 2-4 4-4 8; NOVOSEL, Natalie 3-6 2-3 8; LECHLITNER, Melissa 1-3 1-2 3; WILLIAMSON, Erica 1-2 1-3 3; TURNER, Kaila 1-2 0-0 2; CHRISTIANSEN, Alena 1-3 0-0 2; PETERS, Devereaux 1-2 0-0 2; MILLER, Fraderica 1-1 0-2 2; SOLOMON, Erica 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 31-61 22-34 85.

UCF (3-6) White, Marshay 4-9 2-3 12; Daniels, D'Nay 5-9 0-1 10; Cannon, Emma 2-4 4-6 8; Carter, Gevenia 3-7 1-1 7; Mealing, Angelica 3-7 0-0 7; Wiley, Chelsie 3-5 0-0 6; Caldwell, Jelisa 1-5 0-0 2; Paige, Leah 0-0 0-0 0; Kelly, Ashia 0-0 0-0 0; Patrick, Aisha 0-3 0-1 0. Totals 21-49 7-12 52.

Moments after third-ranked Notre Dame handed UCF a disappointing, deflating 85-52 defeat on Tuesday, Knights coach Joi Williams hoped that her team could learn a thing or two from the very Irish team that had just whipped UCF.

Williams wanted her Knights to take the hustle and scrappiness that Notre Dame used to force a staggering 36 UCF turnovers, learn from it and hopefully incorporate it into their style in the future.

"You see a lot of teams who press, and after one or two passes they drop back. But Notre Dame does a good job of staying aggressive," Williams said. "We've told our team if you want to see a good team and how they press - they aren't the fastest or the quickest - but they have that mindset that they are going to get something out of (the press). The teaching point that we can use from a team like Notre Dame is the aggressiveness and relentlessness that they play with."

UCF (3-6) was left to look for something to build upon after a loss in which it was its own worst enemy. The Knights turned the ball over 18 times in each half, struggling to get into any kind of offense against Notre Dame's smothering 1-2-2 full-court pressure.

Notre Dame (11-0), which entered leading the nation in steals per game (15.5), had 21 steals in Tuesday's game. The Irish have forced 79 turnovers the past two games and have now forced 30 turnovers in a game five times this season.

UCF withstood the pressure early on and was within 31-29 on a 3-pointer by Marshay White (12 points, two 3-pointers) with 3:32 left in the first half. But then disaster struck as UCF turned the ball over on six consecutive possessions.

Notre Dame scored the final 13 points of the first half to lead 44-29 at the break. Two more Notre Dame baskets to start the second half made it a 17-0 run for the Irish and put the game out of reach.

"When we got up two points early in the game I knew that we were capable of playing with them and I thought it was going to be a good game," said UCF junior forward Emma Cannon, who had eight points, eight rebounds and three steals in 35 minutes. "But we didn't focus in on the little things and turnovers were a big, huge key for us. That hurt us in the long run."

Turnovers were such a problem that UCF got off 12 fewer shots than Notre Dame and attempted 22 fewer free throws. Williams was frustrated with the sloppy ball-handling because UCF spent the days leading up to the game talking about the need to take care of the ball.

"The 36 turnovers were the story of the game because they had 36 points off our turnovers," Williams said. "The disappointing thing is that's what we had been talking about in practice and the preparation was that Notre Dame scores off their opponents turnovers. It was almost fool's gold at the beginning because we started the game with several turnovers and they didn't make us pay. Then they went on that 13-0 run and those were off turnovers.

"It's just disappointing because I know we're a better team than we showed today. But obviously when you turn it over that much you can't get into an offensive flow."

D'Nay Daniels added 10 points for UCF. Angelica Mealing and Gevenia Carter each scored seven points, while Chelsie Wiley scored six points. UCF made 42.9 percent of its shots.

Notre Dame's Brittany Mallory scored 16 points off the bench, while Ashley Barlow added 15 points. Six Irish players had at least two steals.

Cannon joined the 1,000-point club with a layup with 9:52 to play in the first half, a basket that got UCF within 19-17. She said the disappointment over the loss wouldn't completely rob her for the joy of all she has accomplished in three seasons at UCF.

"I'm very proud of that. That's a great accomplishment for me, especially with me being a junior because a lot of people don't do that this early," said Cannon, Conference USA's preseason Player of the Year. "I didn't want to get this in a loss or like this, but I'm very excited."

John Denton's Knights Insider appears on UCFathletics.com several times a week. E-mail John at jdenton@athletics.ucf.edu.