ORLANDO – Headlined by a pair of 20-point scorers for the first time this season, UCF women's basketball sent its seniors out with a 64-54 win against Cincinnati Saturday afternoon in their final game inside Addition Financial Arena.
Seniors Destiny Thomas and Mya Burns shouldered the load for the Knights (13-13, 4-10 AAC), as Thomas earned her 12th double-double with 21 points and 20 rebounds along with four blocks. Burns contributed 20 points, six rebounds and two steals. It marked the first time UCF has had two players with 20 points in the same game since Feb. 21, 2021, when the Knights also defeated Cincinnati.
"I'm proud of this win, especially on Senior Knight," said UCF head coach Sytia Messer. "It was a full team effort and our players fought until the end. Destiny has been the engine and I'm proud of her performance. Mya [Burns] set the tone early in the game and the way she transitioned along with getting a big steal towards the end of the game to give us the momentum."
The Black and Gold were locked in on defense to begin the game, forcing the Bearcats (10-17, 5-10 AAC) into eight turnovers in the opening period as UCF held Cincinnati to only seven first-quarter points. That total marked the fewest the Knights have allowed in a quarter against a conference opponent this season. Burns was aggressive on offense, scoring six points in the first, while Thomas added four points and two rebounds.
The Knights' defensive intensity continued, by closing out on every shot they were able to force Cincinnati into tough shots. Rachel Ranke hit a deep three-point shot to put the Knights up 17-9 early in the second quarter. UCF showcased its unselfish play with its ball movement throughout the second quarter, the Knights had five assists on six made field goals. Sierra Godbolt showcased her vision with two back-to-back assists on a transition layup from Burns and a three-point make from Ashton Verhulst. The Knights went into halftime leading 35-19.
A slow start for the Knights in the third, indecisive decisions with the ball turned into four turnovers and five points for Cincinnati. Following a missed layup out of the timeout, Cincinnati cut the lead to six with a made three-pointer. Burns was able to connect on a three-pointer to increase the Knight's lead back to nine. Thomas controlled the paint, making it tough for Cincinnati to get anything around the rim with two of her four blocks in the third quarter. The Bearcats were able to connect on two three-pointers and outscore the Black and Gold 17 to 11 in the third quarter. The Knights headed into the fourth quarter with a 46-36 lead.
Cincinnati came into the fourth quarter applying full-court pressure leading the Knights into five more turnovers. Unable to get shot attempts, the lead was cut to four, the lowest it had been since the first quarter. The Black and Gold were only able to score three points in the quarter and Cincinnati took advantage outscoring the Knights 13 to three. After a pair of missed free throws from Thomas, she had the game-saving block to keep the game tied and send the game into overtime.
From the tip, overtime was all the Knights. The first points of overtime came on a three-pointer from Ranke assisted by Burns. Following a Bearcat turnover, Burns grabbed an offensive rebound, leading to Godbolt driving and dropping it off to Thomas to put the Knights up 56-49 with two key free-throw makes. The biggest shot of the game came from Ranke from the left wing to connect on a three-pointer. Assisted by Godbolt, Thomas set a great screen to free up Ranke for just enough time to sink the shot to put the Knights up by 10. The Knights shot 9-10 on free throws in overtime allowing UCF to hold on for its fourth conference win of the season.
The Knights will cap off the regular season in Tulsa on Wednesday night with tip-off slated for 7:30 p.m.