Knights Set for AAC Quarterfinals against Memphis

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ORLANDO – The UCF women's basketball team heads to the quarterfinals of the 2023 American Athletic Conference Championship on Tuesday, facing No. 2 Memphis in the second round at Dickies Arena. The No. 10-seeded Knights (14-14, 5-11 AAC) and the second-seeded Tigers (19-9, 11-4 AAC) game will be broadcast on ESPN+ at 7 p.m. ET.
• Advance the Knights to the semifinals of the AAC Tournament
• Improve the Knights to 15-14 on the season
• Give Sytia Messer her 15th win as head coach for the Knights and 69th of her career
• Be better than a loss

Overall: Memphis leads 16-15
In Memphis: Memphis leads 9-7
In Orlando: UCF leads 8-7
Neutral Site: 0-0
Last meeting: L, 50-48 in Memphis (2/11/23)
Streak: Memphis won 1
At the AAC Tournament: First meeting
This will be the second matchup this season for the Knights and Tigers. Memphis currently holds a 1-0 edge over UCF.
UCF came up short in an overtime battle against Memphis 50-48 in the last matchup on Feb. in the Elema Roame Fieldhouse. Despite the Knights leading late in the fourth quarter, the Tigers tied the score towards the end of regulation and won in overtime. Mya Burns led the Knights with 12 points and 13 rebounds to log her first double-double of the season. The North Augusta, South Carolina, native also added a season-high five blocks. Rachel Ranke was second on the team in scoring with nine points, while Anzhané Hutton chipped in with eight.
Memphis seeks to continue its seven-game winning streak following the regular-season finale 55-44 win against Tulane on Wednesday, March 1. Jamirah Shutes led the team with 14 points, 12 of which came in the second half, while Madison Griggs added in 13 points.
Currently, the Tigers rank No. in the AAC in offensive rebounds per game (16.3) and turnovers per game (14.6).
This matchup will include the tops two teams in the AAC ranked for offensive rebounds per game with UCF just behind Memphis at the No. 2 spot with 16.2.
The Tigers are 19-9 overall with a 11-4 mark in league play heading into the game on Tuesday.
Two members of Memphis' squad average double figures, led by Jamirah Shutes' 14.9 points per game, making her mark in the AAC ranked No. 2 in free throws (114) and free throw attempts (157). Madison Griggs averages 12.8 points per game and is ranked No. 2 in the AAC for three-point attempts (210), three-point percentage (37.6) and three-pointers (79). Shutes leads the Tigers in assists with 57.
Tuesday marks the 32nd overall matchup between the Knights and Tigers. Memphis leads the all-time series 16-15, with this being the first meeting in the American Athletic Conference Championship Tournament.
The Knights are 11-8 overall in the American Athletic Conference Tournament. In the last six seasons, UCF has earned a first round bye, as the first five teams in the conference receive a bye.

The Knights and Tigers battled back and forth for most of the game with 12 lead changes and eight ties. Memphis ended up coming out on top 50-48 in the last meeting on Feb. 11, 2023. In the fourth quarter, UCF led by five at 38-33 with 8:41 on the clock but Memphis countered with six unanswered points to take a 39-38 lead after a layup from Jamirah Shutes. The Knights knotted the score at 41, after a free throw from Anzhané Hutton. The teams were held scoreless for the next five minutes until Hutton made a layup with 1:21 left in regulation to put the Knights ahead, 43-41. The Tigers tied it with two free throws from Shutes and UCF was unable to convert down the stretch to send the game into overtime. Hutton opened the scoring in overtime with a free throw to make it 44-43, but Emani Jefferson helped the Tigers counter to take the lead with a layup off a UCF turnover and a pair of free throws to grab a 47-44 advantage Sierra Godbolt split a pair of free throws, as UCF trimmed the lead to two. A jumper from Memphis gave the squad a four-point advantage with less than a minute remaining and UCF was unable to recover. Rachel Ranke hit a three-pointer just before the buzzer, but it wasn't enough as the Tigers escaped with the two-point victory.
The Black and Gold are ranked in the top 50 in five statistical categories including No. 8 in offensive rebounds per game with 16.2 and rebounds per game (43.44), 23rd in free-throw attempts per game (21.11), 29th in field-goal percentage defense (36.5) and 44th in free-throws made per game (14.26). UCF is first in the AAC in rebounds per game along with second in field-goal percentage defense and offensive rebounds per game. The Knights are ranked No. 3 in the AAC in free-throw attempts per game and turnovers forced per game (16.37).

Individually, Destiny Thomas is second in the nation (No. 1 in AAC) for offensive rebounds per game (5.2) and 11th in rebounds per game (11.0). Thomas has recorded 13 double-doubles this season and ranks 35th 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 and 2/25), the Knights are second in the conference with 14.26 free-throws made per game. UCF is third in the conference for free-throw attempts per game with 21.11.

Mya Burns leads the Black and Gold with a .800 free-throw percentage (64-80). Burns has been perfect from the free-throw line in seven 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 and East Carolina's Danae McNeal for the most points by any player in the AAC this season.

The Black and Gold are 11-1 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 win against Tulsa on March 6 and Temple on Jan. 21, UCF kept the Owls and Golden Hurricane to 53 points. The 53 points against Tulsa and Temple is second 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 56 rebounds against Temple (2/21), the Knights have outrebounded their opponent by more than 120 total boards. UCF is 10-6 when it outrebounds its opponent. Prior to starting AAC play, the Knights were 9-0 this season when they outrebounded their opponent. The 56 rebounds are the most rebounds in a game for UCF since the 2015-16 season when it recorded 62 rebounds on Jan. 1, 2016, against Cincinnati.

Two Knights rank in the top 15 in the AAC in blocks per game. Destiny Thomas leads with 1.62 blocks per game, landing at the No. 1 spot in the AAC rankings. Mya Burns taps into the AAC rankings at No. 12 with .93 blocks per game.

Destiny Thomas has recorded 94 blocks in her career to make it into the UCF top 10 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 709, landing at No. 7, with the No. 1 spot being held by Tamika Coley (1,211).
Sierra Godbolt leads the Knights in both steals (45) and assists (90). Godbolt, a freshman, is making her mark in the AAC rankings standing at No. 11 in assists per game (2.96).