Knights Fall Short at East Carolina

GREENVILLE, N.C. – The UCF women's basketball team was unable to combat a late 15-0 scoring run from East Carolina in the last four minutes of the game and dropped what will likely be the Knights' last trip to Greenville for the foreseeable future with the Knights heading to the Big 12 Conference. The Knights (11-13, 2-10 AAC) led for 26 minutes, but the Pirates (20-8, 10-4 AAC) took advantage of UCF's turnovers to come away with a 63-57 victory over the Black and Gold on Saturday afternoon in Williams Arena.

Heading into the fourth quarter with a three-point advantage at 43-40, the Knights stretched their lead to nine points with 4:10 remaining (57-48). From there, it was all ECU as the Pirates scored the game's final 15 points to earn their 10th American Athletic Conference win of the season.

Five turnovers from the Knights in the final two minutes proved to be too much to overcome, as East Carolina took their first lead of the fourth quarter after a pair of free throws from Danae McNeal to give the Pirates a 58-57 lead with 41 seconds on the clock. After ECU took the lead, UCF turned the ball over on two of its next three possessions and couldn't connect on a pair of jumpers to close the deficit.

East Carolina struggled early in the game from the free-throw line, but the Pirates went 8-9 in the fourth quarter to help make the comeback.

Taylor Gibson led the Knights with 14 points and went 4-5 from the charity stripe. Rachel Ranke followed up with 13 points, while adding three triples. Destiny Thomas and Ashton Verhulst each added 10 points, while Thomas recorded her 11th double-double of the season with a game-high 16 rebounds.

The Knights capitalized on missed opportunities at the start of the game from the Pirates as they went 5-11 from the free-throw line and recorded a 4-11 clip from the field. Back-to-back triples from Ranke gave the Knights a three-point advantage but ECU quickly tied it back up and UCF answered back to give the squad a three-point lead after the first 10 minutes, 17-14.

With another back-and-forth quarter in the second period, the Knights led by four with six minutes left. As both teams battled for the lead, they headed into the locker room tied 30-30 as Synia Johnson made two free throws to knot it up.

UCF went on a 6-0 spurt in the middle of the third to take the lead, 36-32, but East Carolina answered back to take the lead before Verhulst regained the advantage for the Knights, going 2-2 at the line.
UCF will head back to Orlando for a two-game homestand, as it hosts Temple on Tuesday, Feb. 21, for the Play4Kay game followed by Cincinnati on Saturday, Feb. 25, for Senior Knight.