Dec. 6, 2009
Box Score |
By John Denton
UCF's women's basketball team will undoubtedly replay their four unsuccessful possessions in Sunday's final minute over and over, but it was a breakdown on the other end of the floor that head coach Joi Williams said will haunt her most.
Tied at 59-all with one minute to play, UCF junior Marshay White missed a contested layup and Washington's Sami Whitcomb answered with a tough three-point play with 39 seconds to play as the Huskies defeated the Knights 62-59 at UCF Arena.
UCF had three shots to answer, but junior forward Emma Cannon was called for travelling on a post move with 14.9 seconds remaining and White and Chelsie Wiley missed potential tying 3-pointers in the closing seconds.
"When we missed, we still had every opportunity with a (defensive) stop," Williams said. "That's what we talk about every day in practice - that you win games through defense. It came down to getting one stop with 39 seconds to play and we didn't get that done. We didn't rotate properly, Washington took advantage and we have to learn from that.
"That's the bigger issue than any missed layup," Williams continued. "We put ourselves in position to get that layup through defense, so we've got to get stops when it counts."
UCF (2-2) saw its nine-game winning streak at UCF Arena come to an end. The Knights won their last eight at home last season and routed Bethune-Cookman at home this season. UCF was trying to move a step closer to tie the Division I school record of 11 straight home wins set in the 1998-99 season.
White, who came into the game averaging 12 points a game, carried UCF's offense for long stretches with 19 points. She hit three 3-pointers and six of seven free throws. But it was the two late misses - the left-handed layup and the potential tying 3-pointer with six seconds left that she will remember most.
"She contested (the layup), but I should have finished it," White said. "(The 3-point shot) felt good, and I actually thought it was in, but unfortunately it just didn't fall."
UCF was without Cannon, the preseason Conference USA Player of the Year, for the first half because of a violation of team rules. Williams said the offense was "stagnant" against the Washington (3-4) zone without Cannon and the Knights trailed by as much as 16 late in the first half.
But UCF clawed back in the second half, using its full-court press to force 18 Washington turnovers.
The Knights tied the game at 59-all with 1:35 to play when Wiley followed her own miss with a runner in the lane as she was fouled. Her free throw knotted the game for the first time all afternoon and seemed to give the Knights the momentum.
Seconds later, Wiley dove for a steal and shuffled the ball to White, who couldn't convert a layup over Washington's Sarah Morton.
Said Williams: "Shay finishes those shots every day in practice. She's one player who does a good job of playing with contact."
Wiley finished with 15 points, six rebounds and three assists. D'Nay Daniels had five steals and six points, while Aisha Patrick had nine points and four steals. Cannon scored four points and grabbed four rebounds in 14 minutes.
Williams said that despite the loss the Knights will learn a lesson about executing down the stretch against good teams and it will make them better in the coming weeks with games against Florida Atlantic, Alabama and Florida State looming. Better practice preparation is also a point of emphasis, Williams said.
"We schedule games like this to help us get ready for a successful conference season," Williams said. "We don't schedule to lose and we're very disappointed by the loss. We have to do a better job of preparing. When they start to realize that, we'll be a better team."
John Denton's Knights Insider appears on UCFathletics.com several times a week. E-mail John at email@example.com.