Women's Hoops Hosts Temple in Play 4 Kay Game

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ORLANDO – The UCF women's basketball team starts its two-game homestand on Tuesday, Feb. 21 for the second matchup this season against Temple. The Knights (11-13, 2-10 AAC) and the Owls (10-15, 5-8 AAC) game will be broadcast live on ESPN+ at 6 p.m.  

• Improve the home series to 6-4
• Be UCF's third American Athletic Conference win this season
• Improve the Knights to 12-13 on the season
• Give Sytia Messer her 12th win as head coach for the Knights and 66th of her career
• Be better than a loss

Overall: Temple leads 10-8
In Philadelphia: Temple leads 2-6
In Orlando: UCF leads 5-4
Neutral Site: 1-0
Last meeting: L, 63-56 (1/28/23)
Streak: Temple won 1
The vision of Play4Kay came directly from Coach Kay Yow from NC State.
Through Play4Kay, she saw a way to bring communities together and honor cancer warriors in the fight against ALL cancers affecting women. Uniting players, coaches, officials, and fans to do something for the greater good that far exceeds wins and losses in competition, the Play4Kay initiative is our largest fundraiser and plays a major role in our success. 
The Knights were unable to combat a late 15-0 scoring run from East Carolina in their last outing on Saturday. The Knights led for 26 minutes but the Pirates took advantage of UCF's turnovers to come away with a 63-57 victory. 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. 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 Owls are 10-15 overall with a 5-8 mark in league play heading into the game on Tuesday. Temple comes into the matchup following a 56-48 loss against Houston in its most recent outing on Saturday, Feb. 18. The Owls are currently on a four-game losing streak dating back to Feb. 4.
Two members of Temple's squad average double figures, led by Aleah Nelson's 15.5 points per game, making her mark in the AAC ranked No. 2 in three-point attempts. Tiarra East averages 11.6 and leads the Owls in rebounds with 151. Nelson also leads with 107 assists and in field goals made (125).
Tuesday marks the 19th overall matchup between the Knights and Owls. Temple leads the all-time series 10-8, with the Knights holding a 5-4 advantage in Orlando.
UCF outshot and outrebounded Temple in the last meeting on Jan. 28, 2023. The Knights dropped a 63-56 decision to Temple. Destiny Thomas recorded her 9th double-double of the season, finishing with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Taylor Gibson added 15 points and shot 7-8 from the line.

The Black and Gold are ranked in the top 50 in four statistical categories including No. 10 in offensive rebounds per game with 15.8, 15th in rebounds per game (42.75) and 43rd in field-goal percentage defense (37.1). UCF is second in the AAC in rebounds per game and offensive rebounds per game. The Knights are ranked 35th in free throw attempts per game with 20.71.

Individually, Destiny Thomas is fourth in the nation for offensive rebounds per game (4.9) and 17th in rebounds per game (10.5). Thomas has recorded 11 double-doubles this season and ranks 34th in the country in that category. Her program-record tying 24 rebounds against Seton Hall are the third most by an NCAA DI player this season behind Angel Reese from LSU (28) and Ajulu Thatha from SIUE (25). In the AAC, she is one of two players averaging a double-double along with South Florida's Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu. Thomas recorded a career-high 24 points on Jan. 15 against Wichita State.

Headlined by a season-high 23 free throws made against Idaho State (12/20) and Cincinnati (2/8) along with 33 attempts against Cincinnati (2/8), the Knights are third in the conference with 14.17 free-throws made per game. UCF is third in the conference for free-throw attempts per game with 20.71.

Taylor Gibson leads the Black and Gold with a .784 free-throw percentage (40-51). Gibson has been perfect from the free-throw line in six games this season.  

Jewett recorded a career-high 34 points in UCF's 79-74 double overtime victory against Samford on Nov. 26. Jewett's 34 points came via impressive 56 percent shooting from the field (9-16), including five made triples on nine tries from beyond the arc. That total is tied with South Florida's Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu for the most points by any player in the AAC this season.

The Black and Gold are 8-1 when limiting their opponent to 60 points or less. UCF led the season off by limiting its first three opponents to 60 points or less. In the most recent win against Cincinnati, UCF kept them to 57 points. In the Knights first conference win on Jan. 15, they limited Wichita State to 56 points, second lowest this season. The 57 points against Cincinnati is third for lowest points against a conference opponent, as the Knights held Memphis to 50 on Feb. 11 in the 50-48 overtime loss with 50 points being the lowest this season.

Showcased by a season-high 50 rebounds against SEMO (11/27), Elon (12/21) and Texas Southern (12/29), the Knights have outrebounded their opponent by more than 75 total boards. UCF is 9-5 when they outrebound its opponent. Prior to starting AAC play, the Knights were 9-0 this season when they outrebounded their opponent.
Sierra Godbolt leads the Knights in both steals (42) and assists (70). Godbolt, a freshman, is making her mark in the AAC rankings standing at No. 10 in steals per game (1.75).

Destiny Thomas has recorded 86 blocks in her career to make it into the UCF top 10 tied at No. 6 in most blocks with No. 1 being Ali Roberts with 219. The senior forward also leaped into the top 10 for most rebounds with 653, landing at No. 8, with the No. 1 spot being held by Tamika Coley (1,211).