Feb. 1, 2014
UCF Athletics Social Media Directory
By Jenna Marina
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) - It's been a struggle for the UCF women's basketball team over the last month, but the Knights never quit believing in their mission.
On Saturday, their resolve was rewarded with a 52-43 victory over Houston, and in effect, the team swept the Cougars in the regular-season series to pick up its first American Athletic Conference home win.
"I'm proud of the way the team battled for the win," UCF head coach Joi Williams said. "We went through the month of January without a check in the W column, which was tough, but the team has worked hard in practice and it's great to see that hard work translate on to the court today."
Forward Stephanie Taylor was lights-out for the Knights with a career-high and game-high 19 points off an 8-of-12 showing from the field to go along with her eight rebounds. Forward Brittni Montgomery added a game-high 13 rebounds.
"Stephanie is capable of that kind of performance every night," Williams said.
UCF (9-12, 2-8 The American) pushed the tempo early while disrupting Houston's rhythm by holding the Cougars (4-17, 0-10) without a field goal for the first eight minutes of the game.
The Knights took advantage with a 15-1 opening run, which was capped when freshman Zykira Lewis swiped her second steal of the game, followed with a layup and was awarded an and-1 opportunity. Although she missed the bonus free throw, Taylor was there for the offensive rebound and putback.
The Cougars responded with a 14-2 run to pull within a single possession before the Knights gained a little breathing room thanks to their backcourt. Lewis converted 1-of-2 from the line and guard Andrea Hines sank a nothing-but-net-inside jumper, 20-15, with less than four minutes remaining. That sparked a 13-2 stretch for the Knights, who closed out the half with a 30-17 edge.
Owning the first possession of the second half, UCF worked the ball around until finding Sara Djassi open on the wing, where she beat the shot clock with a 3-pointer to keep the momentum in her team's favor.
Houston was persistent, however, and gradually erased UCF's second-half 21-point lead to just three, 46-43, with two minutes remaining when Destini Texada made good on a jumper. But the Cougars would get no closer as UCF iced the game at the free throw line, converting 6-of-8 from the stripe.
UCF stays put at CFE Arena to face 2013 NCAA Championship runner-up Louisville at 7 p.m. Tuesday.