Sanders Named Preseason First Team, Knights Selected Second

The American Release

ORLANDO – As preparations continue for the 2021-22 UCF women's basketball season, the American Athletic Conference announced its preseason awards on Wednesday. Tay Sanders was named Preseason All-Conference First Team and the Knights were voted to finish second in the league.
The 2020-21 campaign proved to be a breakout season for Sanders, leading to all-conference second team honors. One of the most improved players in the league, she more than doubled her scoring average in her second season with the Black and Gold. The Bartow, Florida, native was UCF's leading scorer at 10.4 points per game and registered 11 double-figure scoring contests in 21 games.
Sanders 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 more than tripled that last season with 10 games of 10 or more points.
Sanders is the fourth Knight to earn preseason first team honors in The American. She joins teammate Brittney Smith (2020-21), Aliyah Gregory (2017-18) and Kay Kay Wright (2019-20).

UCF matched its highest preseason selection as members of The American for the second straight year. The Knights repeated as the second spot in the conference's preseason poll and picked up a first-place vote from the league coaches for the third consecutive season.
South Florida claimed the top spot in the preseason poll. UCF was followed by Houston, Tulane and Temple, respectively.
Coming off back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances, UCF returns its entire starting lineup from the 2020-21 season as the Knights aim for a third straight preseason run. The Black and Gold posted a 16-5 overall record, with a 12-2 mark in league play to finish as the conference runner-up a year ago.
Defense, which has been a UCF staple under Coach ABE, helped the Knights return to the NCAA Tournament for the second-straight year as an at-large squad while making the trip to San Antonio as a No. 10 seed - the highest in program history. UCF has held its opponents under 57 points per game in each of the last five seasons. The Knights limited opponents to 50.5 points per game during the 2020-21 slate, which was the top scoring defense in the country.
In addition to Sanders, UCF returns a two-time all-conference selection in Brittney Smith, all-tournament performers Diamond Battles and Masseny Kaba and The American Newcomer and Co-Sixth Player of the Year Alisha Lewis. All-in-all, the Knights return every letterwinner from last season.
2021-22 American Athletic Conference
Women's Basketball Preseason Coaches' Poll

Team (First-Place Votes)Points
1. USF (10)100
2. UCF (1)91
3. Houston77
4. Tulane72
5. Temple69
6. Cincinnati44
7. East Carolina38
8. Wichita State36
9. Tulsa32
10. SMU26
11. Memphis20

Preseason Player of the Year
Mia Davis, Temple
Preseason All-Conference
First Team
Tay Sanders, UCF
Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu, South Florida
Bethy Mununga, South Florida
Elena Tsineke, South Florida
Mia Davis, Temple*
Asia Strong, Wichita State
Second Team
Laila Blair, Houston
Sydni Harvey, South Florida
Elisa Pinzan, South Florida
Krystal Freeman, Tulane
Maya Mayberry, Tulsa
*denotes unanimous selection
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