Knights Drop Big 12 Home Opener to Oklahoma State

by Logan Hasselbach

ORLANDO – Despite a late push, the UCF women’s basketball team fell to Oklahoma State, 68-61. Neither team was unable to jump far ahead of the other in the defensive battle, which saw the lead change nine times.

Kaitlin Peterson earned her fifth 20-point game of the season, leading the team in points for the ninth time this season, racking up 22 points in the Big 12 Conference home opener.

“These are learning lessons,” said head coach Sytia Messer. “We know that this is going to be a battle. But it’s not how you start; it’s how you finish.”

The first quarter started out slow for both teams in the low-scoring affair. TheKnights forced three Cowgirl turnovers in the opening 10 minutes, while shooting 4-4 from the line. Achol Akot continued to generate rebounds, picking up three boards in the first quarter. 

The Knights went on a 5-0 scoring run to kick off the second quarter, tying things back up at 18. The hard-fought defense continued into the second quarter, with Oklahoma State just barely outscoring UCF, picking up 12 and 11 points, respectively, to end the first half, 26-22.

The Black and Gold picked up the pace in the third quarter, earning the lead with 7:32 left in the quarter. Morgan Robinson-Nwagwu tallied three assists in the third and set a new season-high assist record with five. The team forced five turnovers and earned seven points from those steals. However, thanks to an 8-0 scoring run to end the third quarter, the Cowgirls remained up by two, 42-40, with 10 minutes left to play. 

The final quarter was much of the same for the two teams fighting for their first conference win of the season, with scoring opportunities being hard-earned. The Knights ran into foul trouble early in the fourth, sending the Cowgirls to the line 12 times, where they shot 13-16. UCF sank two threes 
and seven field goals as they attempted to hold leads, but the six lead changes proved to be too much for the conference newcomers, falling 68-61.

After the final buzzer, the Knights had shot 40% from the field, marking the eighth time this season they have shot 40% or above. The team picked up 20 points from the bench and held Oklahoma State to just one bench point.

Peterson’s four assists earned her a new career-high. Khyala Ngodu proved to be a rock for the Black and Gold, shooting 2-2 from the field and 4-4 from the line, while also grabbing four 

The Knights will finish out their homestand as they host Kansas State on Saturday with tip slated for 2 p.m.