ORLANDO – Outscoring Duquesne by 27 points in the second half, the UCF women's basketball team opened its season with a 68-39 victory over the Dukes on Tuesday evening in Addition Financial Arena.
"I told my team that (the game) was going to be close in the first quarter and second quarter," UCF head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson said. "(Duquesne's) not going to give up. They're a fighting team. But the one thing we do have is how we train. We're in really good shape. Our press keeps us in really good shape all year long. I think that's what turned over in the second half."
UCF (1-0) held a 24-22 edge over Duquesne (0-1) at halftime before the Dukes opened the third quarter with a basket to tie the score at 24. The game looked to be following the same back and forth pattern as the first half, with the teams trading baskets without putting any distance between them.
The Dukes hit a three-pointer to pull within two, 29-27, and send the teams into the media timeout with 6:29 left in the frame.
The Knights were fired up out of the huddle, scoring 12 unanswered point to break the game open. UCF outscored Duquesne 13-4 down the stretch to take a 42-31 lead into the final stanza.
Finally enjoying a double-digit lead for the first time in the game, the Knights continued to push. Free throws from Diamond Battles and field goals from Destiny Thomas and Masseny Kaba pushed UCF's lead to 15 points, 48-33. Battles came alive in the fourth quarter, draining a three-pointer on the offensive end before taking the charge on the defensive end. She followed that with another triple to make it a 19-point game, 54-35.
UCF poured in 26 points in the fourth quarter while holding Duquesne to just 17 points in the third and fourth frames combined.
As usual, the Black and Gold defense came ready, forcing the Dukes in 23 turnovers. UCF had 14 steals, scoring 21 points off turnovers and 12 on the fast break.
Three Knights finished in double figures, led by Ahna Burney and Diamond Battles, who each scored 16 points. Masseny Kaba just missed a double-double, finishing with 11 points and nine rebounds. Destiny Thomas pulled down 10 rebounds, split evenly on the offensive and defensive glass.
- UCF is now 5-1 in season openers under Coach ABE.
- Ahna Burney scored a career-best 16 points, making a career-high six field goals and a best four three-pointers.
- Diamond Battles hit four triples of her own, setting career high in the category while also shooting 66.7 percent from beyond the arc.
- Destiny Thomas made her starting lineup debut and was three points shy of the first double-double of her career.
- Alisha Lewis matched her career-best with eight assists.
- Three Knights made their UCF debuts as Shania Meertens, Neila Luma and Laila Jewett all saw action on opening night.
Next up, UCF hosts No. 12/15 Tennessee on Friday evening. The 6 p.m. contest marks the first meeting between the Knights and the Lady Vols.
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