Battled The Bulls

ORLANDO, Fla. ( - With 11 seconds remaining in regulation, Zakiya Saunders stepped up and drained UCF's lone three-pointer of the day to pull the Knights even with No. 21/22 USF and force the War On I-4 contest into overtime. UCF was unable to complete the upset bid, falling 77-68, in CFE Arena on Sunday afternoon.

Saunders poured in 21 of her career-high 31 points in the second half and overtime periods to lead the Knights. She became the first Knight to reach the 30-point mark this season, and extended her double-figure scoring streak to 11 games.

UCF (17-9, 9-4 The American) led by as many as six points, 14-8, in the opening frame, and held a 14-11 advantage at the end of the first quarter. USF (22-5, 11-2 The American) responded with a 24-point second quarter performance to take a 35-28 edge into the locker rooms.

After the Bulls pushed out to an eight-point 40-32 advantage in the third quarter, Nyala Shuler scored six unanswered to pull the Black and Gold within a basket. Korneila Wright collected a rebound and drove the length of the floor to lay the ball in and put UCF even on the scoreboard, 40-40, with 4:55 left in the frame.

Wright and Shuler scored the next three points for the Knights to give UCF a 43-42 edge, but the Bulls closed out on a 5-2 spurt to hold a 47-45 advantage to end the third quarter.

Trailing 52-47 with 8:29 left in regulation, UCF put together a 10-0 run to swing the edge in favor of the home team with 5:10 remaining. After trading baskets, the Bulls went ahead 62-59 on a pair of free throws from Kitija Laksa. Out of a timeout, Saunders came through with the three-pointer to pull UCF even, 62-62.

The Knights were unable to carry the momentum into overtime as the Bulls came away with a 77-68 victory.

USF added three points to its total in the War On I-4 rivalry series. UCF holds a 27-15 advantage in the overall standings.

In addition to Saunders' 31 points, she collected seven rebounds and a game-high five steals. Wright added 13 points with a game-high six assists. Shuler posted her sixth double-digit rebounding performance, collecting 10 boards to go along with nine points.

As the regular season winds down, the Knights head to Memphis for an 8 p.m. ET contest against the Tigers. The game will air on the American Digital Network.

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