Women's Hoops Unable to Overcome No. 11 Kansas State

by Maddie Glass

ORLANDO - The UCF women’s basketball team fell to No. 11 Kansas State, 72-56, Saturday afternoon inside Addition Financial Arena. The Knights (9-4, 0-3 Big 12) outscored the Wildcats in the second half, but were unable to overcome Kansas State's (15-1, 3-0 Big 12) first half lead.  

“Our ultimate goal is to win, but I will say that we understand we are building," said UCF head coach Sytia Messer. “We got a lot of basketball left in us and we are going to continue getting 1% better every day.”

Kaitlin Peterson finished with 22 points, scoring 20-plus points in back-to-back games for the first time this season. Peterson led the Knights in scoring for the 10th time this season, earning her sixth 20-plus point game against Kansas State. The Eufaula native ranks fourth in points per game in the Big 12, averaging 19.5 in her first season with UCF. 

The UCF offense started slow but got it going in the first quarter, ending the frame shooting 42.9 percent from the field. The Black and Gold continued their strong rebounding efforts, grabbing 10 compared to the Wildcats six. Despite the Knights finishing the quarter making five of their last nine field goals, Kansas State hung on to its seven-point lead heading into the second quarter. Peterson paced the Knights with six points in the period.

Jayla Kelly started the Knights off in the second, finishing strong through contact and making the freebie to complete the three-point play. A stop and a steal by Morgan Robinson-Nwagwu led to Achol Akot’s first points of the night, cutting the deficit to two, 21-19. 

A scoring drought by the Knights combined with the Wildcats' perfect 7-7 start from the field, put the Knights in a 12-point hole midway through the second quarter. The Wildcats continued their hot shooting, increasing their lead to 19 going into the break. 

Mya Burns scored the first UCF points after the half when she was fouled on a made three-pointer to earn the four-point play. On the next possession, Peterson knocked down her first three of the night to spark a 7-0 run. The Knights played their best defense of the night, forcing three turnovers and holding the Wildcats offense to 43 percent shooting through six minutes. UCF was able to hold the Wildcats to 13 points but went into the fourth down, 55-37. 

The Knights offense had its best shooting quarter of the game in the final frame connecting on eight of 14 shots and only coughing up two turnovers. It was not enough to make a dent in the deficit as Kansas State held steady. 

The Knights will look to get their first Big 12 Conference win on Wednesday, Jan. 10, as they travel to Cincinnati to take on fellow Big 12 newcomer in the first of two matchups this season with the Bearcats.