Jan. 20, 2008
Box Score in PDF Format
HOUSTON (www.ucfathletics.com) - Freshman UCF guard Jelisa Caldwell (Macon, Ga.) came off the bench to score a career-high 20 points and the Knights used a strong second half Sunday to pick up their first Conference USA win of the season, a 68-49 victory against Rice, at Sharp Gymnasium on the campus of Houston Baptist University.
The Knights (8-10, 1-4 Conference USA), who used their 10th different starting lineup in 18 games this season, won a Conference USA road game for the first time since the 2005-06 season when they defeated Marshall 66-63 on Feb. 24, 2006 in Huntington, W.Va.'s Cam Henderson Center. The 19-point margin of victory marked UCF's largest margin of victory vs. a league opponent since joining C-USA.
"This was a great win for us tonight," UCF head coach Joi Williams said. "The game started out on an 8-0 run by Rice and I thought we did a great job of coming back and playing well in the second half. I was pleased with our defensive effort tonight. Defense, first and foremost, in our minds is what wins the game."
Caldwell was clutch down the stretch for UCF, going 9-of-10 from the free-throw line en route to the first 20-point performance of her career. Freshman forward/center Tia Lewis (Poulan, Ga.) recorded her league-leading 12th double double of the season with 17 points and 11 rebounds, going 7-of-9 from the floor in the game. Junior center Jackie Akers (Cape Coral, Fla.) came up with a career-high four steals in the game, tying her career high with 33 minutes of action.
UCF shot 40.4 percent (23-of-57) from the floor in the game, its best offensive efficiency mark in six games, and used a tremendous defensive performance to limit the Owls (8-11, 1-4 C-USA) to just 31.7 percent (19-of-60) shooting from the field. The Knights out-rebounded Rice 42-40 to mark the fourth consecutive game in which UCF has won the battle of the boards and the 13th time this season.
Rice jumped out to an early 8-0 advantage as UCF missed each of its first six shots of the game. Trailing 11-3, the Knights began whittling away at their deficit by employing an up-tempo offense that used a 10-2 run to tie the score at 13-13 at the 11:11 mark of the opening period. D'Nay Daniels (Atlanta) capped off the run with back-to-back baskets for UCF. After two more ties, Marshay White (Rochester, N.Y.) stole a Rice pass at the mid-court stripe and drove to the basket, scoring on an underhanded lay-up to give the Knights their first lead of the game at 19-17 with 7:51 left until intermission.
UCF extended its advantage to four, 21-17, after a lay-up by White, but the Owls battled back. Rice responded with a 7-0 run of its own, holding the Knights scoreless for exactly four minutes, to go up 24-21 with 3:43 remaining in the half. From there, UCF scored six of the game's next eight points to reclaim the advantage at 27-26, on a hoop by Lewis at the 59-second mark. The Knights used a strong defensive stand on their final possession of the half, thanks to a block by Akers, to take that advantage into the locker room.
UCF shot 38.8 percent (12-of-31) from the floor in the opening period, holding a 21-16 edge on the boards.
The Knights went cold from the floor to begin the second half, missing each of their first eight shots of the period and falling behind 32-27 after a 6-0 run by the Owls out of the locker room. Rice forward Morgan Mayse's three consecutive baskets out of intermission comprised the run. UCF rallied, behind six consecutive points from Chelsie Wiley (Riviera Beach, Fla.), to come within one, 35-34, with 12:08 to go in the game.
The Knights extended that run after a three-pointer and a jumper by Caldwell to take a 39-35 advantage. With UCF ahead 39-37, Caldwell and Angelica Mealing (Decatur, Ga.) hit back-to-back baskets, the last coming at the 8:42 mark of the period, to go up 43-37 and force Rice head coach Greg Williams to burn a timeout. From that point, the Knights used an 8-2 run to move its advantage out to 14 points, 53-39, with 4:01 left after a run-out lay-up by Lewis to put the game away.
Wiley finished with nine points, while Daniels and White each had eight. White also tied her career high with four steals.
Rice is playing the majority of its home contests this season at Houston Baptist University's Sharp Gymnasium while Autry Court undergoes a $23 million renovation that should be completed by the fall of 2008.
Guard Tara Watts led three Rice players in double figures with 13 points.
UCF returns to action Friday when it travels to Hattiesburg, Miss., for a re-match with Southern Miss. Tip-off in Reed Green Coliseum is slated for 8 p.m. EST and the game will be carried live on UCFAthletics.com with Scott Adams.
For the latest news and information on the Knights, tickets or apparel log on to www.ucfathletics.com - the official site for UCF varsity sports. Also check out UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pictures.