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Women's Hoops tops Cyclones, 71-66, behind Mya Burns' 20-point Game

by Ryan Ladika

ORLANDO – “We’ve been challenging Mya, this is your last go-around. You have to make sure that every possession counts.”

In leading the UCF women’s basketball team to its Saturday win over the visiting state Iowa State Cyclones, graduate student Mya Burns lived up to head coach Sytia Messer’s challenge.

The guard notched a game-high, and a personal season-high, 20 points on 8-of-16 shooting in the Knights’ (11-9, 2-8 Big 12) 71-66 victory over Iowa State (13-8, 7-4 Big 12) at Addition Financial Arena, including a dominant third quarter that saw her drill four 3-point field goals in UCF’s second Big 12 Conference win of the 2023-24 season.

“She’s playing like (every possession counts). I’m so proud of her, 20 points against Iowa State and, in my opinion, a Hall of Fame head coach.”

Sytia Messer on Burns' 20-point game

With her team trailing 29-24 entering the second half, Burns put her team on her back. On the heels of a pair of field goals by Morgan Robinson-Nwagwu and Khyala Ngodu, Burns converted three straight attempts from beyond the arc and later added her fourth of the frame around a Taylor Gibson layup.

Burns’ 14 third-quarter points paced her team and aided in the North Augusta, South Carolina, native in recording her fourth game this season with 50 percent shooting or better on at least 10 tries from the field. She also produced her first game with at least four triples since Jan. 15, 2022 with Georgia Southern against UT Arlington, and the fifth such game of her five-year collegiate career.

“When we came out after halftime warming up, I was shooting threes because I knew those threes were open in the first half,” Burns said. “When the ball came to me in-game, I was in the zone, like I was still in halftime warmups. I just got going.”

UCF rode the momentum from its explosive 26-point third frame to an equally prolific 21-point fourth, led by 11 Laila Jewett points. The junior guard scored seven of the Knights’ first nine points of the frame, including her second triple of the contest to complement four points from Burns and Kaitlin Peterson and two more from Robinson-Nwagwu.

“It was a team effort. When you look across the board, we had other people step up. They were boxing out (Peterson) the entire game, and Burns stepped up and hit big shots. We had other people step up besides (Peterson), and when we do that, we’re a better team.”

Sytia Messer

The second-half exploits completed the comeback win for the Knights after they battled throughout a narrow first half with the Cyclones. Jewett converted her first 3-point field goal in the opening 10 minutes of play around four points from both Peterson and Ngodu, and six different Knights found the scoresheet in the second quarter.

The all-around team effort aided in limiting an Iowa State squad that entered the game shooting an average of 46.7 percent, second-best in the Big 12, to just 38.5 percent (20-of-52) Saturday. The Cyclones managed a mark of just 28 percent from beyond the arc as well, also below their season 3-point average of 36.9 percent, the third-best mark in the Big 12 and 18th in the nation.

“Iowa State is known for 3-point shooting,” Messer added. “We tried to switch a lot and be there on the shots. We were able to switch effectively, especially in the second half.”

In support of Burns’ game-high 20 points, Jewett totaled 14 and Peterson, the Big 12’s leading scorer entering Saturday’s action, scored 11 more to secure her 19th game out of 20 to begin the season with at least 10 points.


The Knights conclude a brief two-game homestand with a rematch against the Cincinnati Bearcats Wednesday evening. Tipoff is slated for 6 p.m. from Addition Financial Arena Feb. 7, and will be streamed on ESPN+.


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