John Denton's Knights Insider: Defense Sparks Knight Victory


Feb. 4, 2010

Box Score | Notes

By John Denton

Marshall at UCF
Feb. 4, 2010
Orlando, Fla. (UCF Arena)
Team 1st 2nd Final
Marshall 26 21 41
UCF 36 20 56

MARSHALL (13-9, 5-4 C-USA)
HANDY, Chantelle 7-14 1-2 18; KING, Kendra 2-9 3-6 7; RANDALL, Adrian 3-6 0-0 6; RUIZ, Veronica 2-4 2-2 6; DALE, Mystee 2-5 0-1 4; WOODS, Erica 1-1 2-2 4; MITCHELL, Alaya 1-2 0-2 2; WALTERS, Tania 0-1 0-0 0; HARRIS, Angelica 0-1 0-0 0; HENRIQUES, Rashedah 0-2 0-0 0; GRAY, Raechele 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-45 8-15 47.

UCF (5-12, 2-6 C-USA)
Wiley, Chelsie 6-18 2-4 17; Patrick, Aisha 4-12 2-2 10; Daniels, D'Nay 4-7 2-3 10; Kelly, Ashia 3-3 0-0 7; Cannon, Emma 1-3 2-5 4; Mealing, Angelica 1-7 2-2 4; Carter, Gevenia 0-4 2-4 2; White, Marshay 1-5 0-0 2; Paige, Leah 0-0 0-0 0; Caldwell, Jelisa 0-0 0-0 0; Davis, Racine 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-59

ORLANDO - With her team struggling through an early-morning practice on Wednesday, UCF women's basketball coach Joi Williams attempted to snap her Knights out of a funk by calling for an additional afternoon session as well.

And as it turns out, the two-a-day work proved to be highly beneficial to a UCF team that needed a win in the worst way Thursday night.

UCF responded with its strongest effort of the season, getting a big shooting night from Chelsie Wiley and deep production from several parts of the team in a convincing 56-47 defeat of Marshall at UCF Arena.

How good were the Knights (5-12 overall and 2-6 in Conference USA play) on Thursday night? They led from start to finish and thumped a Marshall team (13-9, 5-4) that had beaten them in the C-USA opener by 14 points.

Junior point guard Angelica Mealing, who had a game-high seven assists, said the double practice sessions the day before sharpened the focus of the Knights. "We were being a little hard-headed and not getting it done, but it was worth it," Mealing said. "We got the win (on Thursday), so whatever it takes."

UCF showed no lingering effects from Sunday's 72-70 loss to Tulane, a game in which the Knights blew a 10-point lead in the final five minutes. But on this night, UCF limited the Thundering Herd to 40 percent shooting. The Knights also outrebounded Marshall, the league's top rebounding team, 42-30.

With another home game coming up Saturday night against East Carolina (7 p.m.), Williams is hoping that her team can start to build some momentum similar to last season when UCF stormed to the first C-USA basketball title in school history.

"We worked hard for this and needed a win very badly just to try and get the momentum going," Williams said. "We wanted to start February out in a positive way. February is a time of year when you have to grind it out and our kids were focused on taking possessions and trying to win those. Our defense was pretty good and that and rebounding was that won the game for us."

Wiley continued her four-game tear with another 17 points and three 3-pointers. She has scored 17, 29, 14 and 17 points in the last four games, while making 15 of 30 3-pointers.

"We try to run some things for Chelsie to get her going and she's done a great job of taking her shot," Williams said. "It was hard for her early because her shot wasn't falling and she got down on herself. But we have a lot of confidence and faith that her shots will fall. She has the green light to shoot and we try to put her in good situations to get shots."

Junior forward D'Nay Daniels also played well for a fourth consecutive game, scoring 10 points and grabbing 13 rebounds for just her second double-double of the season. She's averaged 13 points and 8.7 rebounds over the past four games and has helped UCF dominate foes on the glass.

"We needed a win like this so we could just kind of get our groove back," Daniels said. "I think we're starting to figure out what coach says do usually works and not just doing what we think. Maybe this one will help us get some momentum going."

Emma Cannon, C-USA's Preseason Player of the Year pick, returned after missing the past two games because of a violation of team rules. She had four points, four rebounds, a block and a steal in 22 minutes off the bench.

Aisha Patrick added 10 points, eight rebounds and two steals. And Ashia Kelly made all three of her shots and chipped in seven points.

UCF was clearly ready to play from the start on Thursday, dominating the first half and leading 36-26 at the break. Their offense a struggle at times this season, the Knights were sharp early on as Wiley had 11 points and Mealing handed out six assists in the first 20 minutes.

Now, Williams hopes the momentum from this victory will spark the Knights to a strong finish similar to the one UCF executed last season.

"We always talk about if we execute and do the things we need to do that we can be a pretty good team. I can't be more pleased because it was a great team effort," she said. "We continue to do that and add Emma Cannon back into the mix, I think we can be really good going down the stretch."

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