After a narrow loss to Buffalo, coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson knew that her team had to bounce back in their next game.
“We didn’t come out very well the first second or third quarter against Buffalo and then all of a sudden the fourth quarter, we woke up,” Abrahamson-Henderson said. “We can’t play like that.”
Sunday against Bethune-Cookman, UCF didn’t wait to start the scoring. The Knights buried the Wildcats with a 26-point first quarter in route to a 70-43 win.
“The first quarter was big, I really wanted them to come out really ready defensively,” Abrahamson-Henderson said. “This team’s learning that if we come out right away in the first quarter and the second quarter, then teams start to feel a little different about us.”
Senior guard Zykira Lewis led the way for the Knights with 15 points on 60 percent and four assists. She also had five steals.
“I really wanted to focus on defense cause coach Abe loves defense,” Lewis said. “I like getting steals now, it’s very fun.”
Despite usually starting slow on offense, UCF (7-2) came out firing against Bethune-Cookman (2-6), starting the game on an 11-0 run and relying heavily on shooting threes. The Knights finished the quarter with four made threes on 80 percent shooting.
“I feel like our guards and our post players, nobody can stop us so it’s a matter of our mentality and if we’re gonna go in and attack from the jump,” junior guard Aliyah Gregory said. “I think we really did that today offensively and that kind of sparked our team.”
Gregory finished with nine points, six rebounds and three steals.
UCF could not keep up the offensive effort coming out of the first quarter, shooting only 35 percent and allowing the Wildcats to go on a 6-0 run to start the second quarter. The Knights, however, were able to continue to build on their lead through the quarter thanks to strong defense. At halftime, UCF had a 20 point lead.
With the game put away going into the fourth quarter, UCF’s bench saw a lot of time on the court but the Knights didn’t let up, scoring 20 points on 43 percent shooting on their way to a 27 point win. It was the Knight’s largest margin of victory this year.
“When I got hired, Danny [White] said ‘you’ve got a lot of very good players. I think they can be really, really good, we just gotta get them in a decent system.’” Abrahamson-Henderson said. “I really think that we can win every game and I go in with that mindset every single game.”