UCF Earns Hard Fought Win Against Temple

ORLANDO - In a back-and-forth thrilling victory, the UCF women's basketball team (12-13, 3-10 AAC) held on to beat Temple (10-16, 5-9 AAC) and earn its third conference win of the season Tuesday night at Addition Financial Arena. The Knights set a season-high in rebounds with 56. Anzhané Hutton had a team-high 17 points and 11 rebounds including a late-game layup that gave the Knights the lead. 

The Knights started off the game with a dominant defensive performance against the Owls. Holding Temple to only five first-quarter points, the Black and Gold had five blocks in the first quarter, including three from Mya Burns and two from Destiny Thomas. Temple missed its first eight shots of the game, shooting only 1-16 from the field in the period. Ashton Verhulst scored the first basket of the game and led the team in scoring in the first quarter with five points and two rebounds. The Knights led 15-5 at the end of the first. 

Temple scored a quick four points to cut into the Knights' lead at the start of the second. At the beginning of the quarter, Temple upped its defensive pressure, but the Knights kept answering back. In the middle of the quarter, Laila Jewett pushed the ball in transition following a defensive rebound, leading to an and-one layup by Thomas that put the Knights up 22-12. 

Temple continued to answer back, making three triples in the second quarter and cutting the lead to as little as five. The Knights continued to keep their composure and ended the half leading 31-26. 

The Black and Gold held strong on their lead in the third quarter until an and-one floater by Temple guard Tiarra East gave the Owls the lead with 3:46 left in the period. Temple capitalized on its free-throw opportunities, making five of five from the stripe. In contrast, the Knights were unable to convert their freebies, making only one of eight from the line. They went into the fourth down 42-38. 

The Knights started off on the wrong foot to begin the fourth quarter. Temple had stretched the lead to four, its largest lead all game. The momentum shifted when Hutton made a layup to tie the game with 4:14 left in the fourth quarter. After Hutton's made layup, the Knights never trailed. The Black and Gold were able to turn around their free-throw shooting in the fourth, making 7-11 from the line. Sierra Godbolt was a key contributor in the fourth, making 4-4 free throws. After Godbolt put the Knights up by three late in the fourth, Mya Burns grabbed a key offensive rebound to give the Knights the ball back with 8.8 seconds remaining in the game. Jewett went to the line with the Knights up three, and she made one of her free throws to put the Knights up by four and the game out of reach for the Owls. 

"Focusing on our free throws is crucial for us," said head coach Sytia Messer. "Sierra's free throws at the end were huge, she's been the consistent point guard that has carried us. Collectively, we didn't do a great job. So tomorrow in practice, that's going to be a point of emphasis."

The Knights return to action on Saturday, Feb. 25 when they play Cincinnati (9-17, 2-11 AAC) at 2 p.m. at Addition Financial Arena for Senior Knight.