UCF Tops Cincinnati to Advance to AAC Semifinals

Box Score (PDF)

FORT WORTH – The UCF women's basketball team opened the 2021 Air Force Reserve American Athletic Conference Championship with a 53-43 victory over Cincinnati in Dickies Arena on Tuesday evening.
"You could tell that we had the first game jitters out there a little bit," UCF head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson said. "I really felt like our defense kept us going strong in the game and kept us in the game. I'm very proud of (the team)."
Meeting for the third time this season, the No. 2 seed UCF (15-3) knew it would be a battle with the No. 7 seed Bearcats. The Knights defense, which has been among the best in the nation this year, limited Cincinnati to shooting 34 percent from the field. The Black and Gold forced 20 Cincinnati turnovers and had 13 steals. UCF also registered a season-high seven blocks as a team.
UCF jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first two minutes of the game and led by as many as eight points, 11-3, with just over four minutes left in the frame. The Black and Gold held a 16-11 edge after the first 10 minutes.
The Bearcats responded in the second period, outscoring the Knights 11-5 in the first five minutes to take a 22-21 lead. A Jnaya Walker layup put the Knights back in front, and UCF closed out the quarter with seven unanswered points to take a 28-22 advantage into the locker rooms.
A slow start out of the break saw Cincinnati cut the UCF lead to two, 28-26, but the Knights responded with a 6-0 spurt to put some distance between the squads. A floater in the lane from Alisha Lewis gave the Knights a 41-33 lead heading into the final frame.
Diamond Battles opened the fourth quarter with a steal and a layup to give the Black and Gold its first double-digit lead on the night, 43-33. After Cincinnati made it a six-point game, 43-37, the Knights called a timeout to regroup. Out of the break, Ahna Burney hit a clutch three-pointer in the corner to end the Bearcat run. The Knights kept the game out of reach to earn the 53-43 victory.
UCF advances its fifth-straight AAC semifinal and will face the winner of No. 3 Houston – No. 6 ECU at 8:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
Diamond Battles filled the stat sheet for the Knights with 13 points, five steals, four assists and two blocks. Alisha Lewis added 12 points for UCF and Destiny Thomas pulled down a career-high 11 rebounds, including seven on the offensive glass, to go along with a pair of blocks. Courtajia Sanders had a trio of steals, three assists and two blocks.

The Knights limited The American Player of the Year IImar'I Thomas well below her season average. She and Caitlyn Wilson led the Bearcats with 13 points each.

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