Knights Exceed Expectations Again

Championship Central

UNCASVILLE, Conn. (UCFKnights.com) – In each of the four seasons under head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson, the UCF women's basketball team has exceeded its American Athletic Conference selection. The 2019-20 campaign was no different.
Voted to finish tied with Cincinnati for third place in the league's preseason poll, UCF used an 11-5 record to finish second in the conference standings for the second straight season.
At first glance, a repeat of a second-place finish seemed plausible. After all, First Team All-Conference selection Kay Kay Wright was back for UCF. The Orlando native accounted for nearly 30 percent of UCF's scoring last season, pouring in 595 points on the season – the second-most on UCF's single season chart.
However, the Black and Gold roster included five returners and nine newcomers.
Combined, the returners accounted for 51 percent of UCF's scoring. Without Wright's numbers, the four returners totaled just under 22 percent of UCF's points.
The path to a second-place finish would require everyone – from the returners to the newcomers – to step up.
And they did.
Brittney Smith never had a double-figuring scoring performance during her freshman season, averaging 3.4 points per game and 15.3 minutes per contest in 2018-19. The only Knight to appear in and start all 28 games this season, Smith had 15 double-digit performances, joining Wright as a double-figure scorer at 10.7 points per game. The Orlando native also registered a pair of 20-point performances during her sophomore surge.
Diamond Battles saw action in 30 games as a freshman in 2018-19. The back-up point guard to Wright, she finished with 26 assists as a rookie. The Winter Haven, Fla., native distributed nearly one-third of her freshman total in the 2019-20 season opener against Pitt, dishing out nine dimes. Battles finished the regular season with 89 assists and a 1.4 assist-turnover ratio.
Masseny Kaba and Sianni Martin also stepped up for the Knights. Kaba led the Black and Gold in rebounding and blocks while Martin was UCF's third-leading scorer.
Throughout the season three newcomers earned starting nods – Georgia Gayle, Courtajia Sanders and Jnaya Walker. Gayle led the Knights with 53 three-pointers on the season, shooting at a 35.5 percent clip from deep. Sanders had 25 steals and averaged 3.0 rebounds per game for the Knights.
Walker and Destiny Thomas played key minutes in the post, with Thomas averaging 3.3 rebounds.
But things didn't click right away for the squad.
The Knights started league play 4-4. Losses at Cincinnati, Tulane and Temple, coupled with a seven-point loss to then-No. 4 UConn in Addition Financial Arena saw UCF sitting in sixth place.
Then it came together. UCF closed out the second half of conference action 7-1, the lone loss coming at then No. 5 UConn.
Now the Knights turn their focus to the 2020 Air Force Reserve American Athletic Conference Championship. The No. 2 Knights open tournament action on March 7, facing the winner of No. 7 Wichita State – No. 10 Houston. The quarterfinal contest streams on ESPN3 at 6 p.m.