Jan. 31, 2010
By John Denton
Tulane at UCF
Jan. 31, 2010
TULANE (16-4, 5-2 C-USA)
BARNES, Roshaunda 7-11 8-10 25; KALJO, Indira 4-7 0-0 11; BROWN, Chassity 2-5 6-8 10; AIDOO, Tiffany 4-6 0-0 10; GRAYSON, Olivia 3-6 2-2 9; NUNN, Danielle 1-4 5-10 7; NWOKEDI, Jennifer 0-2 0-0 0; SNOW, Tyria 0-0 0-0 0; KAUTSKY, Janique 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 21-44 21-30 72.
UCF (4-12, 1-6 C-USA)
Wiley, Chelsie 4-10 3-4 14; White, Marshay 5-15 2-2 14; Daniels, D'Nay 4-10 4-4 12; Mealing, Angelica 5-9 2-3 12; Patrick, Aisha 5-7 2-3 12; Kelly, Ashia 2-5 1-4 6; Paige, Leah 0-1 0-0 0; Caldwell, Jelisa 0-2 0-0 0; Davis, Racine 0-0 0-0 0; Carter, Gevenia 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 25-62 14-20 70.
As gratifying as the hustle and grit were that the UCF women's basketball team displayed on Sunday, the crushing final result was equally as frustrating.
That's why head coach Joi Williams struggled with her emotions following UCF's disheartening 72-70 loss to Tulane at UCF Arena.
On the one hand, there was plenty to be proud of in a game where UCF fought back from a 14-point deficit and surged ahead by as many as 10 points with 5 minutes to play. But once again, too many turnovers down the stretch doomed the Knights to another frustratingly close loss.
"If you look at the stat sheet, just about every category we won them. But what it comes down to is taking care of the ball and getting stops at the end," Williams said. "We didn't do that because we had critical mistakes with free throw lane violations and turnovers. We hustled and got after it, but we didn't close out the game."
UCF (4-12 overall and 1-6 in Conference USA play) put a scare into C-USA power Tulane (16-4, 5-2) when it led 65-55 with five minutes to play. And the Knights had the ball with one minute to play with the game tied at 70. But Tulane guard Roshaunda Barnes, who had 25 points, four assists and three steals, swiped D'Nay Daniels' pass and scored what proved to be the winning points with 50 seconds to play.
UCF's Angelica Mealing missed a jumper with 35 seconds to play that would have tied the game. Then, in the final four seconds, Mealing had a 3-pointer and a tip at the buzzer rim out and Marshay White's short bank shot with two seconds also wouldn't fall.
"That wasn't the initial game plan on that last shot, but everything doesn't always work out the way it's drawn up. Players make plays, but unfortunately those shots didn't drop," said White, who had 12 of her 14 points in the second half. "Lesson learned and we just have to take it back to practice and get this next game."
Chelsie Wiley, fresh off a 29-point effort earlier in the week against UTEP, scored 14 points and made three 3-pointers. Aisha Patrick had 12 points and six rebounds, while Mealing added 12 points and five assists.
Emma Cannon, Conference USA's Preseason Player of the Year pick, missed a second consecutive game because of a violation of team rules. She could return on Thursday when UCF hosts Marshall at 7 p.m.
Starting a three-game homestand, the Knights had hoped to put together a similar late-season kick to the one they used last season to win the league championship. But the 17 turnovers and getting outscored 17-5 over the final five minutes sabotaged UCF's effort.
"It's a very tough loss. We had a lot of opportunities and we could have won that game," Wiley said. "It's tough to lose at home. We wanted to start a little streak here and use our homecourt advantage, but it didn't happen. Now, we've got our backs against the wall. We have to play like this all the time. In practice we have to do our best and keep playing hard like this."
Down 37-29 at the half, UCF played especially hard on the defensive end in the second half. A 22-14 spurt to start the second half drew UCF even at 51-all and another stirring 14-4 run by the Knights put UCF up 65-55.
"We knew we had 20 minutes left and we had to go all out," White said of the second-half rally. "We know that we're not winning unless we get stops. We did that and it got us back into the game."
UCF lost because it made just two of 10 shots and one of four free throws down the stretch, while also turning the ball over three times. So good in crunch time last season at home, the Knights dropped to 0-5 this season in games decided by less than three points. Also, UCF lost for the first time all season when scoring at least 70 points. It had been 4-0 when hitting 70.
"When you have an opportunity to win - and we talk all the time about taking care of the ball - but that didn't happen. We had two critical turnovers," Williams said. "I know it's cliché, but we have to learn that you have to play every possession like it's the last."
Williams said the power of just one victory could be monumental for her team and she hopes that it comes Thursday night against Marshall. A similar effort with a better closing stretch could ensure that much-needed victory.
"We've got to focus on the next game. I know people are getting anxious, but we can't panic and feel like we have to have a certain record in these next few games," Williams said. "Right now, we need to win a game. If we'll just take that attitude into the next game, hopefully we'll look up (at the scoreboard) and be where we need to after the game."
John Denton's Knights Insider appears on UCFathletics.com several times a week. E-mail John at email@example.com.