ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The UCF women's basketball season will open Conference USA play on the road for the first time in three seasons under head coach Joi Williams, playing at Marshall (8-5, 0-1 C-USA) Friday night at 7 p.m. at the Cam Henderson Center in Huntington, W.Va.
Like it did a season ago when the calendar flipped to a different year, UCF (3-6, 0-0 C-USA) will look to put the non-conference slate in the past and right the ship as C-USA play begins. The Knights played a tough non-conference schedule which included three losses by three points or less and three more defeats at the hands of ranked opponents. Most recently, the Knights lost to No. 3/3 Notre Dame 85-52 on Dec. 29.
In 2008-09, UCF rebounded from a 2-11 non-conference mark to post an 11-5 record and finish tied for second in C-USA play. The conference success included a sweep of Marshall. On Feb. 13, UCF posted its first victory in Huntington, winning 68-50. Junior Chelsie Wiley (Riviera Beach, Fla.) averaged 23 points per game in two games against the Thundering Herd.
The Knights have been led by C-USA Preseason Player of the Year Emma Cannon (Rochester, N.Y.), who is averaging 14 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. The forward recently became the only active junior in the league with more than 1,000 career points, scoring eight against Notre Dame.
Marshall entered C-USA play as one of the league's hottest teams, having won six-straight games. However, East Carolina stormed out to a 25-point advantage at halftime in the league opener for both teams Monday and posted a 78-54 victory. Tynikki Crook, who leads the Thundering Herd at 14.4 points per game, scored 16 points in the loss.
The contest will be the first for the Knights this season broadcast live on the radio. With Scott Adams and Andrew Gavin on the call, coverage can be heard beginning at 6:45 p.m. on WAMT 1190 AM ESPN Deportes. Those fans not in the Central Florida area or without radio access can listen live via the internet at www.1190wamt.com or via Stretch Internet.
THE SERIES: Marshall leads the series with the Knights 6-3, but UCF swept the season series in 2008-09. The past meeting was also in Huntington, with UCF winning 68-50 behind 17 points from Cannon.
UCF VS. WEST VIRGINIA: UCF has had just 11 all-time meetings with schools from West Virginia, including the nine games against Marshall. In the other two meetings, the Knights have defeated Davis & Elkins and lost to West Virginia.
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: Just like a season ago, UCF enters the Conference USA season after playing a difficult non-conference schedule and posting a sub-.500 record. The Knights faced ranked opponents in three of their nine non-conference contests, and added games against Alabama and Washington.
MOVE OVER, I'M COMING UP: Cannon accomplished a special feat against Notre Dame, scoring her 1,000th career point. The junior becomes the 12th member of the 1000-point club in school history. Accounting for the 16 remaining C-USA games and one postseason contest, she would finish the season with 1,246 points at her current pace. That number would mean she had passed six players on the scoring list and sit in fifth place. The top four players on the scoring list are: Tamika Coley (2,006), Susan Patz (1,587), Chariya Davis (1,517) and Yolanda Rhodes (1,322).
FASTER THAN THE REST: Cannon became the fifth active player in Conference USA to reach the 1,000-point plateau, joining UTEP's Jareica Hughes (1,348), Pauline Love of Southern Miss (1,274), Tulsa's Larissa Williams (1,209) and SMU's Britney Gilliam (1,193). However, Cannon is the league's only junior in the elite group. Houston's Courtney Taylor (920) and Wiley (834) are the next closest juniors to 1,000 points.
CLEAN SWEEP: On Dec. 22, UCF swept the Conference USA weekly awards when Cannon was named Player of the Week and freshman Gevenia Carter (Houston, Texas) earned Freshman of the Week honors. For Cannon, it was the fourth time in her career she has gained the distinction while Carter won her first C-USA weekly honor. Prior to last season, UCF had never had a player win a Conference USA weekly award, but the program now has six players of the week and two freshman of the week awards.
After the opening C-USA road games this weekend, UCF returns to Orlando to begin a three-game homestand. The homestand includes the 10K Gold Rush, a nationally-televised ESPN2 game on Sunday, Jan. 17 at 5 p.m. against UAB. The Knights need your help to pack the UCF Arena and set a new attendance record. Tickets will be free for all fans in attendance.
Season and single-game tickets are currently available with the UCF Ticket Office. Knight fans can purchase season tickets for each of the team's 14 home games for just $39. For more information on purchasing tickets, contact the UCF ticket office at (407) 823-1000.
For the latest news on the Knights, log on to UCFAthletics.com - the official site for UCF varsity sports. The site, which also contains ticket and Golden Knights Club donor information, is also the home of UCF's new online apparel store. Also visit UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pictures.