UCF Opens C-USA Tourney Monday against Marshall

GO KNIGHTS Sophomore Aisha Patrick averaged 10 points per game in the C-USA Tournament a season ago.
Sophomore Aisha Patrick averaged 10 points per game in the C-USA Tournament a season ago.

March 7, 2010

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By Andrew Gavin

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Exactly one year to the date of cutting the nets down and claiming the title at the 2009 Conference USA Women's Basketball Championships, the UCF women's basketball team will begin its pursuit of the 2010 crown on Monday afternoon in Tulsa. As the eighth seed, UCF (10-15, 7-9 C-USA) will play ninth-seeded Marshall (14-15, 6-10) at 1 p.m. EST at the Donald W. Reynolds Center in Tulsa.

The Knights won four games in four days during a memorable week a season ago, and head coach Joi Williams team will again have the task of winning four games in order to cut down the nets again in 2010.

UCF opens play against Marshall, a squad that the Knights split two games with during the regular season. In the C-USA opener for both teams, the Thundering Herd dispatched the Knights, 74-60, holding UCF to just 34.4 percent shooting. Less than a month later, Marshall was held to just 47 points in a 56-47 Knight win in Orlando. Junior Chelsie Wiley (Riviera Beach, Fla.) averaged 13.5 points in the two meetings with the Herd.

After beginning their conference slate at just 1-6, the Knights posted a 6-3 record during February and March and travel to Tulsa as one of the league's hottest teams. UCF has won two-straight games on the road, including a 50-49 buzzer-beating win in the Reynolds Center on Feb. 27. More recently, the Knights downed Southern Miss 84-72 last Wednesday.

UCF's strong play of late has been highlighted by two important factors - rebounding and balanced scoring. The league's top rebounding team, UCF held an advantage on the glass in 14 of 16 conference games. The Knights had six double-figure scorers on Wednesday, and UCF has a quarter of juniors averaging between 9.8 and 11.8 points per game. Marshay White (11.8), Wiley (11.2) and Emma Cannon (11.1) each average in double digits.

Monday's contest can be heard in the Central Florida area on WHOO 1080 ESPN "The Team." With Scott Adams and Andrew Gavin on the call, the broadcast begins at 1 p.m. EST. The broadcast can also be found on via the internet at ESPNFlorida.com and UCFAthletics.com.

LAST TIME OUT: Six different Knights scored in double figures and the Knights shot over 53 percent to end the regular season with an 84-72 victory at Southern Miss on Wednesday night.

UCF AGAINST THE TOP HALF: Against the five teams in UCF's side of the bracket, the Knights have a 4-5 record this season. UCF is 1-1 against its first-round opponent Marshall, losing its C-USA opener on the road 74-60 on Jan. 8 and beating the Thundering Herd 56-47 in Orlando on Feb. 4. The Knights are also 2-0 against Southern Miss, 1-1 against East Carolina, 0-1 against Tulane and 0-2 against Memphis.

UCF AGAINST THE BOTTOM HALF: UCF holds a 3-4 record against the six teams in the bottom half of the draw. The Knights won their only meeings with both Houston and Tulsa, lost their only matchups with SMU, UTEP and Rice and split two games againt UAB.

1,000-POINT DUO: Cannon and Wiley both joined the an eilte club this season when they both surpassed the 1,000-point barrier and became the 12th and 13th members of the program's 1,000-point club. Cannon scored her 1,000 point on Dec. 29 against Notre Dame and now has 1,134 points, good for sixth all-time in UCF history. Wiley tallied 1,000 points against Houston on Feb. 20 and enters the tourney with 1,034 points.

BOARD WORK: Showing impressive consistency, UCF outrebounded 14 of its 16 opponents in conference play. UCF outrebounded its past four opponents 191-127 for a rebound margin of plus-16.0. The Knights enter the tournament with a league-leading rebound margin of plus-6.3 overall and plus-8.5 in C-USA games. UCF also leads the league in offensive rebounds per game (17.8).

START STREAK: Possibly the most under the radar player for UCF, sophomore Aisha Patrick's value is certainly felt by the Knights' players and coaches. The sophomore, who has led UCF in minutes per game in each of the past two seasons, started her 50th-straight game at Southern Miss last Wednesday. In her career, Patrick has started 58 of 59 games.

OUT IN FRONT: UCF has been impressive when getting out in front of its opponents this season. The Knights are 10-1 when leading at the half and 10-1 when leading with five minutes to play. The team is still looking for a signature comeback win as it is 0-14 when coming out of halftime with a deficit.

CANNONBALL: Cannon became a two-time all-conference player Saturday when she was named to the C-USA all-conference third-team. The junior enters the tourney as one of three players in C-USA averaging a double-double (11.1 ppg, 10.2 rpg). Now with 888 career rebounds, Cannon became one of the league's top-10 all-time rebounders Wednesday.

For the latest news on the Knights, log on to www.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 www.UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pictures.