Feb. 27, 2011
UCF 72, Southern Miss 65
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By Pat Salvas
HATTIESBURG, Miss. (UCFAthletics.com) - Senior Chelsie Wiley (Riviera Beach, Fla.) connected on six 3-pointers, including four in the second half, to lead the Knights to a 72-65 win against Southern Miss Sunday afternoon at Reed Green Coliseum. The win was the seventh straight for the Knights (18-10, 11-4 C-USA), who clinched the No. 2 seed and a first round-bye in the Conference USA Tournament in El Paso, March 9-12.
"I always talk about how hard it is to win on the road, so I am pleased with how they responded today," head coach Joi Williams said. "To have a bye means a lot to us. We have some banged-up players, so it will give us the opportunity to get some extra rest before playing in the tournament."
The bye will be the first for the Knights since joining C-USA in 2005. UCF's 2009 run the conference title came as the No. 5 seed.
Wiley's 18 points all came from long range as she matched her season high with six trifectas to help UCF sweep the season series with Southern Miss (10-18, 5-10 C-USA). The Knights have now defeated the Golden Eagles in five straight meetings dating back to the 2009 conference championship game.
Senior D'Nay Daniels (Atlanta, Ga.) had 16 points in the win and was 10-for-11 from the free-throw line. Junior Aisha Patrick (Rockledge, Fla.) also scored 16 points, while adding a team-high eight rebounds.
A strong first half by the Knights saw them build their lead to as much as 13 points, 26-13, midway through the period. The Golden Eagles, which had started slowly, began to pull closer to UCF in the final seven minutes of the half with Tanesha Washington scoring 10 points during that stretch to cut the deficit to six at halftime, 42-36.
In contrast to the first half, UCF was cold to start the second half, connecting on just one field goal in the first seven and a half minutes. However, Wiley's barrage of 3-poniters down the stretch kept the Knights in control, holding on for the seven-point win.
UCF has now won four-straight road games and spoiled Southern Miss' Senior Day with Sunday's victory.
The Knights were outrebounded for the first time in nine games as they had just 31 Sunday, their second lowest figure of the season. The Golden Eagles had 33 boards in the loss.
Southern Miss outshot the Knights, 52.7 percent (29-55) to 38.9 percent (21-54), in the game. But 10 UCF 3-poniters and connecting on 20-of-23 (87.0%) from the free-throw line was the difference for the Knights.
Washington led the way for USM, recording a double-double of 19 points and 12 rebounds.
UCF will now return home for its final game of the regular season Thursday at the UCF Arena against Memphis at 7 p.m. Senior Night ceremonies will follow the game, which will be nationally televised on CBS College. Admission to the game is FREE with the first 250 fans receiving a FREE UCF women's basketball t-shirt and the first 500 receiving a FREE poster of the Knights' five seniors.