UCF To Open NCAA Tournament Friday

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) – When the UCF women’s basketball team steps onto the court on Friday, it will be to compete in an NCAA Tournament game for the first time in eight years – and the first time ever as an at-large bid.


“This (was) one of their goals this year,” head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson said. “They accomplished it. This is going to be a great opportunity for us going into this tournament.”


When the 2019 NCAA Women’s Basketball bracket was announced on Monday, the Knights saw their names as a 12 seed, facing the fifth seed Arizona State Sun Devils in Coral Gables. UCF was unfazed by the in-state trip.


“Our team has always been ‘let's do one game at a time.’ We can't worry about the future. We can't worry about the past. We have to worry about one game at a time,” Coach “ABE” said.


The one game at a time mantra led the Knights to an 11-2 non-conference record – the best mark in the Division I era. Road wins over fellow NCAA squads Mercer and Quinnipiac, plus a pair of close contests with Syracuse and Central Michigan prepped UCF for the postseason.


“We put in a lot of work to get here,” junior guard Kay Kay Wright said. “It wasn't easy. But we did it. It's been great to be a hometown hero, both (redshirt senior forward Nyala Shuler and I), get some great wins for the program.”


All season long, the Knights reached milestone after milestone, setting records along the way. UCF received votes in the USA Today/WBCA coaches poll in each of the 19 weeks, and picked up its first-ever votes in the AP Top 25, appearing in 10 polls on the season. Posting a 13-3 record in the American Athletic Conference, the second-place Knights made their first appearance in The American’s title game for the first time since the league’s inception in 2013.

They made history again when the NCAA Tournament bracket was released - earning the program's first at-large bid and the highest seed in the Knights' five appearances.


“I wanted to come to UCF to build and obviously to be here (at the NCAA Tournament) where we are today. My first year we only won about seven games. To come from seven games to 26 now is really amazing,” Shuler said.


The Knights look to continue their historic season on Friday as they open NCAA Tournament action against Arizona State at 7 p.m. on ESPN2.


Game Information

Matchup: #12 UCF (26-6) vs. #5 Arizona State (20-10)

Date: Friday, March 22

Time: 7 p.m.

Location: Coral Gables, Fla.

Venue: Watsco Center