March 3, 2011
UCF 70, Memphis 52
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By Pat Salvas
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - An earlier loss this season at Memphis fueled the UCF women's basketball team in Thursday night's rematch at the UCF Arena. The Knights' (19-10, 12-4 C-USA) worst loss of the season came at the hands of the Tigers on Jan. 20, but nothing was going to stop them on this night as they honored their senior class with a 70-52 win in the regular season finale to push their win streak to eight games.
"We have some great momentum going right now," head coach Joi Williams said. "We have some work to do, but we are excited about having earned the bye and some rest for the players. I am very pleased with how we have played since the beginning of February and heading towards the postseason."
Senior Chelsie Wiley (Riviera Beach, Fla.) scored a game-high 19 points on 5-of-8 shooting from 3-point range final home game of her five-year career with the Knights.
Fellow seniors D'Nay Daniels (Atlanta, Ga.) and Jelisa Caldwell (Macon, Ga.) added 14 and 6 points, respectively. But perhaps the best moment of the night came during starting lineups when junior guard Aisha Patrick (Rockledge, Fla.) took off her shooting shirt to reveal she was wearing the No. 3 jersey instead of her usual No. 10 to honor injured senior guard Angelica Mealing (Decatur, Ga.).
"This senior class means a lot to me and this program," Williams added. "It's hard to put into words what they have done in building up this team and I am so proud of what they have been able to accomplish here."
Mealing, who ranks fourth all-time in program history in assists with 327, was truly honored in appropriate fashion as Patrick tied her team season high with nine assists in front of the largest crowd of the season as 1,007 fans were in attendance Thursday night.
UCF finishes the regular season with its highest overall and league win total since joining C-USA for the 2005-06 season. The 18-point win over the Tigers (19-11, 8-8 C-USA) was the eighth straight for the Knights, who had already locked up a No. 2 seed at next week's C-USA Tournament in El Paso, Texas.
After the Tigers tied the game, the Knights used an 11-0 run in the final 2:49 of the first half to take a 35-24 lead into halftime. They would not relinquish the lead in the second half, building it to as much as 24 with 5:40 remaining, before ending with the 18-point advantage.
The eight-game win streak is the most since UCF won nine in a row during the 2003-04 season.
Senior Leah Paige (Atlanta, Ga.) made her first career start and had one rebound in the win. Junior Ashia Kelly (Longview, Texas) was 3-for-8 from beyond the arc and finished with 14 points.
The Tigers defeated the Knights by 21 points, 74-53, in the last meeting between the two. Since that loss, UCF has gone on a 9-2 run heading into the conference postseason.
The Knights shot over 50 percent from the field for just the second time this season, finishing 30-of-58 (51.7%) from the field. UCF also outrebounded Memphis, 36-34.
The Knights have not lost since January and will head into the postseason in its best position in more than half a decade. With the first-round bye, the UCF's first game in El Paso will take place on Thursday. In the coming days, UCFathletics.com will have all the latest information regarding the team's postseason schedule.