Jewett Leads UCF over Samford 79-74 in Double OT

ORLANDO – Through the UCF women's basketball team's first three games of the new season, the Knights weathered an irregular schedule and a clinched a narrow 2-point victory in their first road game of the season. What they hadn't yet overcome was being pushed to the brink on their home floor.
Trailing by as many as four points with 23 seconds left in regulation, the Knights (4-0, 0-0 AAC) dug deep and found a way to overcome the visiting Samford University Bulldogs, 79-74, on Saturday afternoon in the program's first time embarking in a double-overtime contest since 2013.
"It was a dogfight," guard Rachel Ranke said. "We just wanted to close it out and get this 'W.' We wanted to protect our home floor, so we knew we had to come out with the win and keep playing and giving it our all."
Playing its second game in five days after taking the court just three times in the season's first three weeks, UCF forced overtime tied at 60 courtesy of a pair of Destiny Thomas layups within the final 10 seconds of regulation.
The Knights quickly found themselves once more on the wrong side of the scoreboard in the extra frame, down 65-63 with 2:50 on the clock, but four combined points from Taylor Gibson and Mya Burns aided UCF in sending the contest to a second overtime period, with the affairs evened again at 67.
"The number one thing I learned about my team is that we have fight in us. I was very proud of the way we fought," head coach Sytia Messer said. "There were times that we could have folded, but we stepped up. I also learned that the performance Laila [Jewett] gave today, that it's in there. And now I expect nothing less than what she gave us today in terms of her energy, her effort and her determination."
Jewett took center stage for the Knights in the game's second overtime, adding a key insurance field goal that gave UCF a 75-70 lead with 47 seconds left and tacking on two final free throws to finish with a career-high 34 points.
"When we were finally up five, that was the only time I had comfort in the game," Jewett said with a smile.
Indeed, the affairs at Addition Financial Arena remained close throughout the afternoon in the second game of the first day of the UCF Thanksgiving Classic. The largest lead either team enjoyed was the Knights' 38-28 advantage with seven and a half minutes to play in the third quarter.
Bryana Hardy led her team with six points in a first quarter UCF lost 14-12, and Jewett starred with eight consecutive points during a 13-0 UCF run that turned a 21-15 deficit into a 28-21 lead halfway through the second frame.
"They played hard, they threw a lot at us defensively," Messer said of Samford (3-4, 0-0 SOCON). "They really kept us off our heels for a while, and I would say it wasn't until late in the third quarter that we finally got comfortable. Laila just really took over."
Jewett answered a Samford 2-point jumper immediately with her fourth of five eventual 3-point shots before adding another layup to extend her team's lead to 10, and added three points down the stretch to give the Knights a 45-41 lead entering the final 10 minutes of regulation.
"It was definitely a gutsy win from us, for sure," Jewett continued. "Everybody had a role, everybody played their role perfectly, and we were able to come out with the 'W.'"
Jewett's 34 points came via an impressive 56 percent shooting from the field (9-of-16), including five made triples on nine tries from beyond the arc. Ranke joined her teammate in double-digit scoring with 10 points and Thomas collected 12 rebounds to pace UCF in the category.
The Knights will look to continue riding their momentum in the Classic's Day 2 on Sunday, with a 2 p.m. home tipoff against Southeast Missouri State.