Knights Unable to Overcome the Pirates

ORLANDO – The UCF women's basketball team's eight-game win streak against East Carolina ended Saturday afternoon in a tough loss to the Pirates. The Knights (10-10, 1-7) couldn't find their groove offensively and the Pirates (15-8, 6-4) came out on top 68-54.  Destiny Thomas recorded her 10th double-double of the season, finishing with 14 points and 15 rebounds.
"We are celebrating small victories until we can get to where we want to be," said head coach Sytia Messer. "Our players didn't give up, we applied pressure, we pressed and played man to man to force some turnovers and that's what I'm proud of. We've got to just keep plugging and we'll get there."
UCF got off to a slow start offensively, only scoring six points in the first quarter, tying a season-low at Auburn. The Knights coughed the ball up eight times in the quarter, which gave ECU momentum to build a lead. With the turnovers, the offense struggled, shooting just 25 percent from the field, compared to 42.1 percent from the Pirates. The Knights were struggling on both sides of the ball, yielding 16 points in the paint.
The offense began to warm up, shooting 35.7 percent in the second quarter. Turnovers continued to hinder the Knights' momentum, though, as the team committed eight more in the quarter. ECU continued to get to the paint, scoring 10 more points around the basket. The Pirates outscored the Black and Gold 26-8 in points in the paint at the half. The Black and Gold out-rebounded ECU in the first half 23-16.  Thomas led the Knights with seven points at the half and eleven rebounds.
The Pirates went into halftime leading by 14 and the Knights struggled to make up ground in the third quarter. UCF continued to collect rebounds, grabbing twelve more in the quarter with seven of them on the offensive end. The Pirates continued their hot shooting, shooting 50 percent from two-point range and 100 percent from the three-point line.
The Black and Gold continued to fight and went on a run in the fourth quarter, winning the quarter 23-16, but it wasn't enough to overcome the Pirates. The Knights out-rebounded the Pirates 41-35 in the loss.
Laila Jewett added 10 points and shot 3-of-7 from the arc. As a team, UCF recorded an astonishing 44 points off the bench.
Ashton Verhulst made her return against ECU with five points, marking her first game action since UCF's third contest of the season Nov. 22nd.
The Knights will now travel to Cincinnati for a matchup against the Bearcats Feb. 8th, with tipoff scheduled for 7 p.m. from Fifth Third Arena.