UCF Trio Recognized By The American

The American Release

ORLANDO – Three members of the UCF women's basketball team were recognized for their performances throughout the 2020-21 American Athletic Conference season. Courtajia Sanders was a second team all-conference honoree and Brittney Smith was tabbed to the league's third team. Alisha Lewis became the second Knight to earn a major award in The American as she was named Newcomer of the Year and Co-Sixth Player of the Year.
The trio extended UCF's streak of multiple honorees on The American's regular season awards list to five consecutive years.
Sanders has been UCF's leading scorer nearly all season and ranks 19th in the league at 10.6 points per game. The Bartow, Fla., native registered her first double-double performance as a Knight with 17 points and 10 rebounds in the Jan. 3 win over Houston. She posted her second double-double performance of the season with a 10-point, 11-rebound outing against ECU on Jan. 27. In the Feb. 27 win over Temple, Sanders scored 12 of her 14 first half points in the second quarter, matching the Owls' output at the break by herself. She finished with her second 22-point performance and collected five of her eight rebounds on the offensive glass.
In her first season with the Black and Gold in 2019-20, Sanders registered just three double-digit games. The guard has more than tripled that this season with 10 games of 10 or more.
Smith earned third team honors for the second straight season, ranking ninth in the league with 6.6 rebounds per contest and 24th in scoring at 10.1 points per game. The Orlando native earned her first career Player of the Week honors, collecting the accolade after a career-performance at Cincinnati on Feb. 13. Smith led all scorers with a career-best 25 points and pulled down a career-high 12 rebounds for her first double-double of the season and the third of her career. She finished the game making a career-best 10 field goals on 76.9 percent shooting. Smith was perfect from the field in 3 of the 4 quarters. She started the game a perfect 4-4 from the field and 2-2 at the free throw line for 10 points at halftime.
Smith posted a pair of double-double outings during league play, starting with her 25-point, 12-rebound effort against the Bearcats. She pulled down 13 rebounds and chipped in 10 points against Tulsa on Feb. 20. Smith finished the regular season with 11 double-digit scoring games.
Lewis hit her stride in league play. During UCF's eight-game win streak, Lewis led the Knights with 11.4 points per game. She hit 21 three-pointers at a 44.7 clip and shot 81.8 percent from the charity stripe. She was tied for the most assists during that stretch at 4.0 per game.
The Wallingford, Pa., native led the league in three-point field goal percentage on the season, shooting 47.1 percent. She finished as UCF's second-leading scorer in league play with 10.2 points per game and has reached double figures in five of the last six games. Lewis is also a creator, tallying eight games on the year with four or more assists. She dished out a career-best eight dimes in the Feb. 27 win over Temple.
Lewis posted a pair of career performances during league play. In the Feb. 13 win at Cincinnati, she scored a then-career high 24 points, connecting on a career-best six treys while shooting 66.7 percent from deep. She also matched her career high with five rebounds. The sophomore guard outdid that in the first meeting against No. 14 South Florida on March 2. She scored a career-high 27 points on 9-16 shooting, including a 6-9 showing from three. Lewis also collected a career-high six steals.
UCF (14-2, 12-2 The American) secured a top two finish in the league standings, marking the fifth straight season with a first round by in The American Championship. Since Coach ABE's arrival in Orlando, she has secured a top four finish in The American and UCF is the only school to do so in each of the last five years.

The second-seeded Knights opens the 2021 Air Force Reserve American Athletic Conference Championship on March 9, playing the winner of the No. 7 Cincinnati-No. 10 Memphis matchup at 7 p.m. ET in Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.
2021 American Athletic Conference
Women's Basketball Regular-Season Awards
Player of the Year
IImar'I Thomas, Sr., F, Cincinnati
Freshman of the Year
JerKaila Jordan, Fr., G, Tulane*
Coach of the Year
Jose Fernandez, South Florida
Defensive Player of the Year
Lashonda Monk, Sr., G, East Carolina
Newcomer of the Year
Alisha Lewis, So., G, UCF
Most Improved Player of the Year
Elisa Pinzan, Jr., PG, South Florida
Co-Sixth Players of the Year
Alisha Lewis, So., G, UCF
Maria Alvarez, So., G, South Florida
Ambassador Award
Sierra Cheatham, Sr., G, Tulane
First Team All-Conference
IImar'I Thomas, Sr., F, Cincinnati*
Bethy Mununga, Sr., F, South Florida
Elena Tsineke, So., G, South Florida
Mia Davis, Sr., F, Temple
JerKaila Jordan, Fr. G, Tulane
Second Team All-Conference
Courtajia Sanders, Sr., G, UCF
Lashonda Monk, Sr., G, East Carolina
Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu, Sr., F, Memphis
Elisa Pinzan, Jr., PG, South Florida
Asia Strong, Jr., F, Wichita State
Third Team All-Conference
Brittney Smith, Jr., F, UCF
Miya Crump, R-So., G, Houston
Sydni Harvey, Jr., G, South Florida
Krystal Freeman, Sr., F, Tulane
Maya Mayberry, Jr., G, Tulsa
All-Freshman Team
Jillian Hayes, Fr., G, Cincinnati
Laila Blair, Fr., G, Houston
Jasha Clinton, Fr., G, Temple*
JerKaila Jordan, Fr., G, Tulane*
Wyvette Mayberry, Fr., G, Tulsa*
*denotes unanimous selection