March 1, 2008
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MEMPHIS (www.ucfathletics.com) - Three UCF players scored 18 or more points Saturday and freshman forward/center Tia Lewis (Poulan, Ga.) became the Knights' single-season rebound leader in an 81-69 win against Memphis in the Elma Roane Field House to conclude the 2007-08 regular season.
Freshman forward Emma Cannon (Rochester, N.Y.) led three Knights in double-figure scoring with a game-high 20 points to complement nine rebounds, just narrowly missing her 12th double-double of the season. Freshman guard Chelsie Wiley (Riviera Beach, Fla.) tallied a career-high 19 points with a career-high five assists, while freshman guard D'Nay Daniels (Atlanta) scored in double figures for the fourth time in five games with 18 points. Daniels tied her career-high with nine rebounds after also pulling down nine boards on Thursday at UAB.
"This was a great win for us today and a great way to go into the conference tournament," UCF head coach Joi Williams said. "We did it through defense. We had a few lulls, but we were able to come back and get stops. I am proud of the way we closed out the regular season, and this win will be really good for our confidence."
Lewis became the school's all-time single-season rebound leader with 336 boards this year. She surpassed the school's all-time leading rebounder Tamika Coley, who holds four spots on the single-season list and previous record with 325 boards during the 1993-94 campaign.
"We held our composure today and played with poise," Williams said. "I am so proud of this young team for how well they have come along from the start of the season. They have learned how to hang on to leads and put everything together."
The Knights (10-19, 3-13 Conference USA) have reached the 10-win plateau for the first time since the 2004-05 campaign and have notched two conference road wins for the first time since the 2005-06 season. UCF improved to 3-1 this season when scoring 80 or more points in a game.
The Knights shot 46.9 percent (30-of-64) from the floor in the game, including a 50 percent (15-of-30) clip in the second half, and won the rebound battle 45-35. The UCF post presence came up big in the game as the Knights out-scored the Lady Tigers 48-33 in points in the paint. UCF forced Memphis into 18 turnovers in the game and the Knights were able to score 23 points off of those miscues. Memphis (10-19, 7-9 C-USA) shot 46 percent (29-of-63) from the floor in the game.
The Knights opened the game on a 16-6 tear that was capped off by a basket from freshman guard Angelica Mealing (Decatur, Ga.) at the 12:29 mark of the first period, as UCF induced Memphis into six turnovers in the first six minutes of the game. A three-point play by Mealing allowed UCF to extend its advantage to 21-8 before the Lady Tigers' Jessica Hall knocked down a jumper and a three-pointer on consecutive possessions to cut within eight, 21-13, with 10:53 remaining in the half.
Memphis then scored five of the game's next seven points to narrow its deficit down to six, 23-18, at the 8:36 mark. The Lady Tigers then connected on four consecutive baskets, including two by Aroha Jennings, to cut within one, 25-24. A pair of free-throws by the Lady Tigers' LaToya Bullard gave Memphis its first lead at 28-27 with 2:57 left until halftime. With UCF up 31-30, the Knights scored the final seven points of the half to take a 38-30 advantage into the locker room at intermission.
UCF, which led by as many as 13 points in the first half, shot 44.1 percent (15-of-34) from the floor in the opening period, committing just six turnovers. Memphis connected on 42.9 percent (12-of-28) from the field, but committed 13 turnovers. The Knights scored 15 points off of the Lady Tigers' miscues in the first half.
The two teams traded baskets to begin the second half until Cannon knocked down back-to-back hoops to put UCF ahead by 12, 48-36, at the 17:27 mark of the final period. Back-to-back baskets by freshman guard Jelisa Caldwell (Macon, Ga.) capped off a 10-0 run by the Knights that gave them a 52-36 lead with 16:06 remaining in the game. Memphis responded with an 8-2 run of its own to come within 10, 54-44, with 13:11 left. The Lady Tigers then used a 5-2 run and cut within seven, 56-49, with 8:41 to go. A three-pointer by Wiley from the left wing extended UCF's advantage back to 12, 63-51, with just over eight minutes to play.
The two teams traded points before Memphis whittled its deficit down to eight points, 69-61, with 4:30 left on a basket by Ashley Thornton. Cannon stopped the Lady Tigers' scoring streak with a lay-up at the 3:42 mark to give the Knights a 71-61 advantage going into the under-four media timeout. Memphis kept rallying and came within six, 71-65, after a three-pointer by Hall with 2:33 remaining. That trey forced Williams to burn a late timeout. The Knights forced a stop on the other end of the floor and Cannon made a basket in deep with 1:28 to go to give UCF a seven-point advantage. The Knights hit clutch free throws down the stretch to hang on for the win.
Hall led Memphis with 20 points, while LaToya Bullard followed with 13 points and 12 assists.
UCF returns to action on Thursday when it opens play in the Conference USA Tournament with tip-off slated for 5:30 p.m. EST in the New UCF Arena. The team's opponent is to be determined, but the announcement will be made later this evening following the conclusion of all of the Conference USA games of the day. A press advisory with the complete bracket will be disseminated at that time.
UCF will play host to the 2008 Conference USA Women's Basketball Tournament, March 6-9, at the new UCF Arena. Single-game and session ticket packages are now available. Call the UCFAA Ticket Sales Office at 407-823-1000. 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.