Women’s Basketball falls to Tulane 64-50

ORLANDO – Despite a fast first-half start, a sluggish beginning to the second half would prove too much to overcome for the UCF women's basketball team in its Tuesday evening matchup against Tulane, as the Knights fell to the Green Wave, 64-50, at Addition Financial Arena.
"I definitely think the third quarter is where the struggles began," said head coach Sytia Messer. "The score was 20-6 in points in the third quarter. We weren't able to hit shots, Destiny [Thomas] with her fouls, really doesn't give us any continuity when she's out. We just have to figure it out."
Perhaps carrying over a bit of momentum stemming from the quick turnaround after their Sunday afternoon win, the Knights (10-7, 1-4 AAC) kicked off their Tuesday evening tilt against Tulane (12-7, 2-4 AAC) firing on all cylinders.
Behind its first 3-point shot from sophomore Laila Jewett and four more points from junior Anzhané Hutton, UCF leapt out to a commanding 12-4 lead with just under six minutes to play in the first frame. The Knights on the other end pitched a shutout for over three minutes to begin the night and yielded just four points through the first four minutes of action.
"I feel like our kids came out ready in the first half," Messer added. "If you look at the season, our third quarter has been our Achilles' [heel]. We're working on that, but I felt we hit shots that we didn't make in the second half, and I felt our offensive execution was better in the first half than in the second half."
The Green Wave worked its way back with a pair of quick triples, answered in between by Jewett's second made try from beyond the arc. On the other end of the media timeout, Taylor Gibson also found the scoresheet for the first time to push the Knights' advantage to 17-14 after the first 10 minutes.
On the other end of the pause, senior guard Mya Burns took command, potting nine of the Knights' 16 points on 3-of-4 shooting and three free throws in the second quarter. Rachel Ranke later came through with a converted 3-point try, marking her team's third of the game, that gave the Knights a 33-28 halftime edge.
UCF lost all offensive momentum it had gained following the break in action, as the Knights were limited to just three field goals in the third frame and 17 points across the final 20 minutes of play. Burns recorded a team-high 15 points and Jewett joined her teammate in double figures with 10.
For Burns, the evening marked her most prolific on the offensive end since her 16-point display Dec. 20 against Idaho State, and the senior has now reached double digits in three of her last four games.
The Knights will now look ahead to one of their most challenging tests yet, a matchup with 16-4 South Florida in Tampa on Sunday. Tipoff from the Yuengling Center is slated for 2 p.m.