John Denton's Knights Insider: Knights Win Fourth Straight, Exact Revenge on Tulane


Feb. 17, 2011

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By John Denton

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFathletics.com) - Not long after UCF's defeat of Marshall last Sunday one of the players on the team walked up to the dry-erase board and scribbled the numbers ``62-63'' for all to see. And considering that was the same thing written in UCF's dressing stalls and locker room all season long, there was no explanation needed.

That was the heartbreaking score in which Tulane rallied to beat UCF by in last season's Conference USA tournament in Tulsa, Okla. Tulane went on to win last season's C-USA title, while UCF patiently waited for Thursday's chance to exact some revenge.

The Knights did just that at UCF Arena, rallying from 10 points down in the final seven minutes of regulation and then making all of the hustle plays in overtime to defeat Tulane 73-69.

``That (2010 tournament loss) was a big motivation for us. We wrote on our board, `63-62.' That was a tough game to lose, to be so close,'' said Ashia Patrick, who had 15 points, a career-best 15 rebounds and the tying field goal with 1:57 to play in regulation.

``We kept that (loss) in our mind the whole game and we kept thinking that we couldn't lose this game again by one point. We had to do the little things like defending and rebounding and playing them to their left because they are a strong right-handed team.''

For UCF (15-10 overall and 8-4 in conference play), the victory pushed its winning streak to four games and kept the Knights locked into second place in the C-USA standings. The Knights were able to grind out a tough victory despite senior forward D'Nay Daniels (17 points, seven rebounds and five steals) fouling out with 3:57 to play in overtime. And senior guard Chelsie Wiley, the reigning C-USA Co-Player of the Week, suffered through a dismal game by missing 11 of 12 shots and scoring just seven points.

But UCF played like a team on a mission in Thursday's second half and overtime period, fighting back down the stretch and winning many of the battles for loose balls and rebounds in the extra session. Gevenia Carter scored 15 points off the bench, while Jelisa Carter added 12 points, six rebounds and a nifty up-and-under layup that sealed the victory for the Knights.

``We were down and we just talked about getting stops. Tulane went on a run and we were playing no defense. They really responded to that challenge and took a lot more pride in our defense and that's how we turned it around,'' UCF coach Joi Williams said. ``When D'Nay went out a lot of them looked her in the eye and told her, `We got you.' We played hard and we had people stepping up. Jelisa Caldwell stepped up and I can't say enough about Ashia Patrick. We talked about going after loose balls and every rebound. We haven't done that consistently, but we did it (Thursday) night.''

Trailing 53-43 with 7:28 to play, Williams employed a full-court press and it changed the pace of the game and helped ignite UCF's defense. As it turns out, UCF held Tulane (17-8, 6-6) without a field goal for the final 6:24 of regulation and the first 4:28 of overtime - almost 11 minutes without a field goal.

``Coach said to us, `Keep your poise and this is what we've worked hard for all year with conditioning and lifting weights twice a week,''' Caldwell said. ``She told us to stay focused and go win the game.''

Down 59-54 with three minutes to play, Patrick took over the game down the stretch. She drilled her only 3-pointer of the game and then got into the lane for a dazzling reverse layup in which she flipped the ball back over her head.

Said Patrick: ``I knew how serious the time was and how close the game was and I just tried to put a spin on it and luckily it went in.''

The first half was extremely erratic for both teams, but remarkably ended tied at 29-all. UCF missed its first eight shots of the game, then put together a stretch of eight make sin 11 attempts, but ended the half by making just three of 12.

Carter, last week's hero in the UTEP victory when she hit a buzzer-beating half-court shot, had a 13-point burst in the first half to help the Knights build a 21-11 lead.

Riding a four-game winning streak heading into Sunday afternoon's home game against East Carolina, the Knights are starting to take on the look of the 2008-09 squad that finished the season strong and won the C-USA tournament. With four games to play until conference tournament action begins, the Knights know they need to be playing their best basketball down the stretch.

``This win gives us some confidence and momentum going down the stretch,'' Williams said. ``Obviously we have a lot more basketball to play, so we're not really focused on the winning streak. We just want to get them one game at a time. And we really want to take care of our business at home. We need to win in our building.'' ====

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