John Denton's Knights Insider: Balanced Attack Helps Knights Snap Skid, 70-60


Jan. 21, 2010

Box Score | Notes | Photo Gallery

Southern Miss at UCF
Jan. 21, 2010
Orlando, Fla. (UCF Arena)
Team 1st 2nd Final
So. Miss 28 32 60
UCF 29 41 70

RUCKER, Candace 7-17 5-6 19; LOVE, Pauline 8-20 0-0 16; JOHNSON, Danielle 3-9 1-2 8; WASHINGTON, Tanesha 3-5 0-0 6; GATLING, Erin 2-4 1-2 5; DUNBAR, Geneshia 2-2 0-0 4; BROWN, Kassietta 1-4 0-0 2; KELLY, Ashlee 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 26-62 7-10 60.

UCF (4-10, 1-4 C-USA)
Wiley, Chelsie 7-10 1-2 17; Cannon, Emma 7-8 3-6 17; White, Marshay 5-14 0-0 12; Daniels, D'Nay 5-13 0-1 10; Kelly, Ashia 2-2 0-0 6; Patrick, Aisha 2-7 0-0 4; Caldwell, Jelisa 1-2 0-1 2; Mealing, Angelica 1-3 0-0 2; Carter, Gevenia 0-4 0-0 0. Totals 30-63 4-10 70.

Maybe, just maybe, this will be just what UCF's women's basketball team needs to regain its championship form from last season.

Facing the same Southern Miss team that it beat in last spring's Conference USA title game in overtime, UCF got contributions from all over the roster and delivered in the second half of a 70-60 defeat of the Golden Eagles.

The victory allowed UCF (4-10 overall) to snap a five-game losing streak and win in C-USA play for the first time this season. UCF jump-started the season with a stirring second-half rally last season, and is hoping to do the very same thing again this season.

"It's good to get a win finally and this is long overdue. The difference is we played more aggressively and with the intensity that we need to play with from start to finish," UCF coach Joi Williams said. "(One win) can snap us out of it if our players realize why we won and what was different with this game than the other games we'll be in good shape. We shared the ball and knocked down shots. Hopefully it can jump-start us for the rest of the year."

The Knights won Thursday night at UCF Arena because of 17 points each from Chelsie Wiley and Emma Cannon. Wiley continued to show signs of snapping out of a season-long shooting funk by making seven of 10 shots and two 3-pointers. And Cannon shook off a slow start and made seven of eight shots.

UCF hit 53.1 percent of its shots in the second half and 47.6 percent for the game. The Knights are 4-0 this season when they score at least 70 points in a game.

"I just came out with the mindset of being aggressive because I had to get out of this shooting slump," said Wiley, who entered the game shooting just 36.1 percent from the floor. "Being aggressive really helped me in this game."

The game against Southern Miss was a rematch of the two teams that played in the 2009 Conference USA title game, a game UCF won 65-55 in overtime for the school's first C-USA title. Southern Miss has since fallen on hard times, losing 10 games in a row and dropping to 4-14 overall and 0-5 in conference play.

Cannon was presented with a commemorative basketball before the game, celebrating her 1,000th point in a UCF uniform. She became the 12th players in school history with 1,000 career points back in December against Notre Dame.

Cannon had a tough put-back basket in traffic and two free throws with 1:48 remaining to steady UCF's offense and secure the victory.

"It's great to get back into winning and to do it on our homecourt is great, too," Cannon said. "We've just got to keep it going from here."

Cannon said the talent and chemistry is there for the Knights to get as hot as they were last year when they went undefeated at home in conference play and won four games in four days in the postseason tourney.

"We still believe and we believe in our coaches," Cannon said. "We did the little things tonight and that got us the `W.' We just have to continue that into the future."

Tied at 45-all midway through the second half, UCF pulled away by getting better ball movement that created open shots. Marshay White and Ashia Kelly combined to hit three 3-pointers, keying a 13-2 run that put the Knights in firm control of the game.

White had 12 points and two 3-pointers, while Kelly had six points by making both of her 3-point shots. D'Nay Daniels chipped in 10 points, six rebounds and three steals, while Angelica Mealing had six assists and Aisha Patrick added nine rebounds and four steals.

"We hit those easy shots in the paint," Williams said. "We've been missing a lot of them and that was a difference for us. It deflates you when you make a good defensive play and you miss a layup. We missed a couple, but we got `em back. When we score 70 (points) good things happen."

UCF led 29-28 at the half, but that lead didn't come easy for the Knights. Once down as much as 23-14 following a 10-0 Southern Miss run and seemingly teetering on the edge of collapse, UCF ripped off a 13-2 run of its own to regain control of the game. "Points in games previously we'd hang our heads and get down, but (on Thursday) we fought back hard," Williams said. "They know they've got to get this back right through getting defensive stops. Our energy was good. We got stops and then we got scores. We limited our empty possessions and got some scores."

Strangely, Cannon rarely touched the ball in the early going, but got involved in the offense late in the half. Cannon was benched twice early in the game for not hustling back on defense, but responded with eight points in the final 5:40 of the half.

Wiley, who has shown signs of late of breaking out of a season-long shooting slump, gave the Knights a huge lift in the first half with 11 points. The effort was reminiscent of last spring when Wiley scored 18 points and hit four 3-pointers against Southern Miss in the C-USA title game.

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