Ousting The Owls

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UNCASVILLE, Conn. ( – Hot second quarter shooting led the third-seeded UCF women's basketball team to a 77-70 victory over No. 11 Temple in the quarterfinals of the Aaron's American Athletic Conference Championship in Mohegan Sun Arena on Sunday afternoon.
"Overall, I think everyone on the team stepped up and scored," UCF head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson said. "We did a good job of getting extra possessions and offensive rebounds. That is the way we want to play at UCF. Apply the press, get after it defensively and go in transition."
UCF (21-9 The American) found itself down 19-10 against Temple (12-19) after the first quarter of action. Using a 12-0 run and 75 percent shooting from the floor, the Knights rallied to take a 32-31 lead into the locker room.
The Black and Gold pushed its advantage to double figures, 57-45, before the Owls hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to make it 57-48 entering the fourth quarter. A layup from junior Kayla Thigpen gave the Black and Gold their largest lead of the contest, 66-48, with 7:17 left to play. The Knights scored a season-high 77 points to earn the victory.
Zakiya Saunders led all scorers with 22 points, surpassing her 1,000th career point in the process. Masseny Kaba scored 13, and Korneila Wright and Aliyah Gregory each added 11 points. Kaba grabbed a team-high eight rebounds. Wright dished out four assists, while Saunders swiped four steals.
The Knights will face No. 2 USF at 4:30 p.m. on Monday.
The Knights advance to the semifinals of The American Championship for the second straight season.

  • Sunday's victory advances UCF to the semifinals in back-to-back campaigns for the first time as members of The American.
  • In their first three seasons in the league, the Knights lost their first round matchup as seeds 8-10.
  • UCF will make back-to-back conference semifinals since 2005. The Knights played in the 2003 and 2004 Atlantic Sun title games and entered as the No. 1 seed in 2005 where they advanced to the semifinal.

The defense came in clutch once again.

  • After allowing five three-pointers in the first quarter, UCF held Temple to just four in the final three quarters.
  • The Knights limited the Owls to a 39.2 field goal percentage, including 25 percent (2-8) in the second quarter.
  • UCF swiped 14 steals, tying its second-most this season. The last time UCF recorded 14 or more steals came in the win against Temple on Dec. 30.

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