Knights Drop Heartbreaker Against Memphis in Quarterfinals

FORT WORTH, Texas - The UCF women's basketball team's season came to an end Tuesday evening after losing a heartbreaker to Memphis in the quarterfinals of the American Athletic Conference Tournament inside Dickies Arena.

The Knights (14-15, 4-11 AAC) led for a majority of the game (36:07) before the Tigers (20-9, 11-4 AAC) captured the lead in the final half-minute, earning the 48-46 triumph.
Taylor Gibson led the Knights with nine points, while Sierra Godbolt contributed eight assists.
"I was super proud of my players," said head coach Sytia Messer. "I feel like for 38 minutes we won the game. We just didn't finish it there at the end. But I understand that this is a process and we understand it's a process. We've celebrated the small victories."
It was an impressive start for the Knights on offense and defense. The Black and Gold connected on three three-pointers early in the game and went on an 8-0 run to build a lead on the Tigers.
The defensive intensity had the Tigers out of sorts, as Memphis scored only eight points in the quarter and shot 25 percent from the field. Godbolt paced the Knights with four points and three assists while Rachel Ranke added five rebounds.
The Knights continued their strong play into the second quarter, outscoring the Tigers 15-8 in the period. Early in the second when the Tigers cut the lead to three, it was Laila Jewett and Gibson who connected on a pair of three-pointers to take back control. UCF tallied five more assists in the quarter, including three from Godbolt. UCF forced four more turnovers and limited the free-throw attempts in the period, only allowing two in the half. With 24.2 seconds left, Ashton Verhulst was fouled on a three-point shot, sending her to the line with the opportunity to put the Knights up double digits. She went 3-3 from the stripe to push the lead to twelve going into halftime at 28-16.
Coming out of the break the Knights struggled to regain offensive rhythm. It was a 10-0 Memphis run before Gibson scored the Knights' first points late in the quarter. Gibson then pushed the lead back to four with a pair of free throws at the line. Despite the offensive struggles, the Black and Gold held the Tigers to just 22.2 percent shootingin that period and ended the quarter leading 34-28.
At the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Knights held firm on their lead. Destiny Thomas gave the Knights a 45-39 lead with an impressive up-and-under layup and completed the three-point play. The Black and Gold didn't make another field goal after that. With the lead down to one, Anzhané Hutton answered with back-to-back baskets to push the lead to five. It wasn't until the final 22 seconds that the Tigers captured the lead on a pair of free throws. The Knights were unable to score after a turnover that resulted in two more Memphis free-throw attempts. Following two misses at the line, the Knights had one more chance to continue their season, but the swarming Tigers' defense forced another turnover to take the win.