UCF Visits C-USA Rivals Houston, Rice

GO KNIGHTS Senior Shelby Weber has posted three double-doubles this season.
Senior Shelby Weber has posted three double-doubles this season.

Jan. 4, 2006

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ORLANDO- The UCF women's basketball team (2-10, 0-1 Conference USA) opens the new year on the road as it travels to Texas this weekend where the Golden Knights square off against Houston (3-8, 0-0 C-USA) on Friday at 8 p.m. and Rice (4-7, 0-0 C-USA) on Sunday at 2 p.m.

UCF will be looking for their first C-USA victory after dropping a 61-50 decision to Southern Miss in their league debut on Dec. 31. The Golden Knights face a difficult task as Rice and Houston were picked first and second, respectively, in the preseason coaches' poll.

SCOUTING HOUSTON... After finishing their non-conference schedule with an 80-71 loss to Charlotte on Dec. 30, the Cougars open their 2005-06 C-USA campaign against UCF on Friday night.

Houston is a well-rounded team with four seniors, two juniors, four sophomores and two freshmen. In fact, the two Cougars in double figures are sophomore guard Tye Jackson (19.8 points per game) and freshman guard Sha'Ratta Hawkins (16 ppg). Meanwhile, senior forward Emily Fryters has posted a team-high 7.5 rebounds per outing.

THE SERIES VS. HOUSTON... Friday marks the first meeting between the Cougars and Golden Knights.

SCOUTING RICE... Led by C-USA Preseason Player of the Year Lauren Neaves, the Owls have posted a 4-7 record entering the weekend. Neaves, a junior forward who has also earned conference player of the week honors, boasts a team-high 12.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per contest. Also averaging double digits on the scoreboard is junior guard Krystal Frazier with 11.5 points.

THE SERIES VS. RICE... The Golden Knights and Owls meet for the first time in program history on Sunday.

LONG EFFORT... Sophomore guard Amber Long had a career night against Southern Miss as she scored a game-high 16 points. She went 5-for-8 from field goal range and hit five of seven attempts from the foul line in the effort.

CROWDED HOUSE... The Golden Knights are aiming to break the program's home attendance record when they try to "Pack the House" with fans for Jan. 15th's game against UTEP. CSTV is scheduled to air the game live at 5 p.m.

UCF's current attendance record is 876, a mark that was set on Feb. 2, 2002 when the Golden Knights hosted Campbell.

CLOSING ON A MILESTONE... Shelby Weber began the current season with 390 career rebounds and after adding 86 boards this year, she is well within reach of eclipsing the 500 mark. If she accomplishes the feat, Weber will be the third athlete in two years to do so with Ali Roberts and Takira Allen reaching the milestone during the 2004-05 season.

Currently, 14 players in UCF history have grabbed 500 boards. Of those athletes, five have done so during Coach Gail Striegler's tenure.

GOLD SMITH... Shayla Smith has made the most of her final season with the Black & Gold. The senior guard is currently second on the team, averaging 9.3 points per game after scoring a career-high 18 points at Troy Dec. 11.

More than that, Smith has made her presence known in the conference rankings as she tops league athletes in three-point field goal percentage (55.2%) and is second among league players in assist/turnover ratio (2.60).

LENDING A HAND... Senior guards Shayla Smith and LaShay King will each be leaving their mark on the UCF record books at the end of the season. Both are ranked on the school's list for most assists in a career. Adding a team-high 57 helpers to her 194 from the previous three years, King sits in sixth with 251.

Prior to the start of this season, Smith appeared on the list in ninth with 219 assists. With 39 assists this season, she now has 258 during her career and has jumped to fifth place all-time at UCF. Her next hurdle is Marcie Swilley's fourth-place mark of 326 assists.

Among conference players, King is listed third with 4.75 assists per game, while Smith is ninth at 3.55.

HOUSTON ROCKET... Junior guard Francine Houston stepped up to lead the UCF offense early in the season and still remains atop the stat sheet with 16.1 points per game. Through games of Dec. 31, Houston was fourth in the conference in scoring, while she was first in three-point field goals made (3.25).

Twice this season Houston has been recognized for her performance on the court. The first time was as a member of the Hilton Concord Thanksgiving Classic All-Tournament Team. In two games against Butler and Princeton, she averaged 23 points. Against the Tigers she went 7-for-10 (70%) from behind the arc to tie UCF's record for most three-pointers made in a single game.

In December, Houston was also named to the UCF Holiday Classic All-Tournament Team. She recorded 14.5 points per game and went 10-for-10 from the foul line in contests against Central Michigan and UT-Arlington.

SEEING DOUBLE-DOUBLE... Two Golden Knights have recorded double-doubles during the 2005-06 season. Senior forward Shelby Weber has added three double-doubles to her two from last year for a career total of five. Her first double-double of the season came against Butler in the Hilton Concord Thanksgiving Classic on Nov. 25 when she scored 14 points and pulled down a team-high 11 rebounds. Weber added two consecutive double-doubles against Miami (15 points, 11 rebounds) and Quinnipiac (17 points, 10 rebounds) in December.

Junior forward Juliana Gomes earned the first double-double of her career against Santa Clara on Nov. 28 when she had a career night with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

COMING OUT OF HER SHELL... Named one of Conference USA's Players to Watch, forward Shelby Weber is certainly proving that moniker was well-deserved as she continues to shine during her final season with the Black & Gold. In addition to her team-leading three double-doubles, Weber currently leads UCF on the boards, averaging 7.2 rebounds per game, which ranks her ninth in the conference. She is also third on the team in scoring with 8.4 per contest.

Weber leads the team in blocks with 15 and is ranked fifth in C-USA with 1.25 per outing.

FOREIGN POLICY... Junior forward Juliana Gomes, a native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, is the first foreign-born player to don the Black & Gold jersey during head coach Gail Striegler's tenure. The last international members of the UCF women's basketball team were Scandinavians Anu Mahlamaeki, Vukko Timola and Frida Stromquist, who played during the 1997-98 season.

Gomes has started five of the 11 contests she has played this season and is averaging 4.4 points and 3.5 rebounds per contest.

PERFECT STRANGERS... Of the 23 opponents on the 2005-06 schedule, UCF will be meeting 11 of them for the first time in program history. Among them are six Conference USA rivals (Houston, Rice, East Carolina, Memphis, Tulsa and SMU) as well as opponents West Virginia, Princeton, Santa Clara, Central Michigan and Quinnipiac.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN... The Golden Knights logged some serious travel miles before returning to Orlando for the UCF Holiday Classic from Dec. 16-17. After opening the season with the Golden Knights Classic, the team flew to Northern California, where it spent Thanksgiving in the San Francisco Bay Area at the Hilton Concord Thanksgiving Classic then took on Santa Clara on Nov. 28 prior to returning home.

On Dec. 4, the Black & Gold visited Florida State. They finished the road swing with a trip to Alabama, where they squared off against former A-Sun rival Troy on Dec. 11.

ON THE TUBE... UCF will have two games broadcast on television this season. The Dec. 4 match-up at Florida State was carried live by Sun Sports, while CSTV is set to broadcast UCF's Jan. 15 contest against UTEP, marking the first time that a Golden Knights' game will be nationally televised.

OPENING NIGHT SUCCESS... With the victory over FAMU, the Golden Knights improved to 5-2 in season openers since head coach Gail Striegler took the helm during the 1999-2000 season.

POLLING STATION... In its first season in Conference USA, UCF was chosen to finish sixth of 12 teams by the league coaches in the preseason poll. Rice was picked to capture the title with seven first place votes followed by crosstown rival Houston in second with five first place votes. SMU was third with Marshall and Tulsa rounding out the top five.