UCF Edged in Final Seconds by First Place Houston


Jan. 27, 2011

Final Stats

Box Score in PDF Format

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By Pat Salvas

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - UCF women's basketball head coach Joi Williams will be the first to tell you that she does not believe in moral victories. But if there ever was a time when someone could claim one it would have been the Knights on Thursday night against Houston, Conference USA's only remaining unbeaten team.

Billed as the biggest game of the season, the Knights and Cougars did not disappoint, playing one of the most exciting games in recent memory at the UCF Arena.

Trailing by as many as 13 in the second half, a resilient UCF team fought back to take the lead late in the game. But missed free throws by the Knights and clutch play from Houston's top players in the final 25 seconds of play helped seal a three-point win, 71-68, for the Cougars.

Coming into the game a perfect 6-0 in C-USA play, Houston looked as if it would finally fall Thursday night.

A career-high 22 points from sophomore Gevenia Carter (Houston, Texas) against her hometown team was all the more impressive by the fact that she was held without a point for the first 11 minutes of the second half.

Carter's 11 points in the final nine minutes, combined with senior forward D'Nay Daniels' (Atlanta, Ga.) fifth double-double of the season helped the Knights get back into the game down the stretch.

Junior Ashia Kelly (Longview, Texas) connected on a late three pointer to give UCF a lead, but the Cougars' free-throw shooting in the final minute of the game put them back on top and handed the Knights just their second loss of the season at home.

"I think we made a few bad decisions late," Williams said. "I was proud of how we fought out of that hole, but we have to do a better job of making good decisions and getting defensive stops."

It seemed as if the Knights' comeback would lead to a victory, especially when considering that one of the league's top players in Houston's Courtney Taylor was held to just 10 points in the game by the UCF defense.

After Daniels pulled down six rebounds in the first six minutes of play, the Cougars began to put two defenders on the Knights' top post player to limit her rebounds the rest of the game.

Junior guard and UCF's leading rebounder this season Ashia Patrick (Rockledge, Fla.) stepped up and grabbed a team-high 12 boards to offset Daniels' inability to break Houston's double-box out tactic.

Patrick finished with just six points in the game, but as always filled the stat sheet with game highs of five assists and four steals.

Like Carter, freshman Erika Jones (Phenix City, Ala.) came off the bench to provide a spark. Hitting a jumper from the elbow and corralling an air ball and finishing the play with a reverse, one-handed layup, Jones helped the Knights' late-game push to regain the lead.

Houston is usually led by the trio of Taylor, Porsche Landry and Brittney Scott, but on Thursday night Lesslee Mason stepped up to make her presence felt as well. Recording a double-double with 14 points and a game-high 14 rebounds, Mason was one of four players in double figures for Houston in the win.

Taylor also managed a double-double with 12 rebounds to go along with her 10 points. Landry had a team-high 17, while Scott finished with 14, including the two free throws with seven seconds remaining to force the Knights into a three-point situation on the final possession of the game.

Senior Chelsie Wiley (Riviera Beach, Fla.) had 10 points, while Kelly added eight and five rebounds.

For the game, UCF outrebounded Houston, 46-41, but was outshot by its opponent, 44.6 percent (25-56) to 31.4 percent (22-70) in the game.

UCF will now head out on the road for another two-game trip that starts Sunday at East Carolina at 1 p.m.