After allowing the opposing team to go on a run in the first quarter, women’s basketball coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson called a timeout to get her team back on track. Once the Knights got back on the floor, they looked like a different team.
“[I told them] that I’m gonna give them, like, Lolli pops and suckers at the end of the game if they just play hard,” Abrahamson-Henderson joked.
The Knights (8-2) more than earned those Lolli pops throughout the rest of the game, defeating the Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs 66-52 at home Saturday afternoon.
Senior guard Zykira Lewis led the Knights to the win, scoring 20 points, including her 1,500th career point, recording five rebounds, five assists and six steals.
“What she’s learning is all new, you know, but she really likes it,” Abrahamson-Henderson said. “She likes not just being the three point shooter on the team. She likes to go to the rim, she’s liking to get those steals, she’s liking the press and so that’s gonna give her … easier points.”
UCF’s usual defensive effort was lacking to start the game. Halfway through the first quarter, the Runnin’ Bulldogs (3-5) were shooting 57 percent and the Knights were having trouble on offense, turning the ball over multiple times due to travelling violations and bad passes.
The Knights then went on a 16-2 run to end the quarter, forcing turnovers and scoring in transition. UCF held an 11 point lead going into the second quarter.
“Our defense creates our offense. We just love to get after people, make them turn the ball over, get easy points.” freshman guard Kay Kay Wright said. “Any time we get a steal, we look to capitalize off of it.”
Wright finished the game with nine points and five assists.
UCF continued to thrive off their defensive effort in the second quarter, consistently forcing turnovers and trapping the opposing guards. The Knights held the Runnin’ Bulldogs to just 28 percent shooting in the first half and scored 21 points off turnovers. UCF’s lead had grown to 22 at halftime, their biggest halftime lead of the season.
UCF got off to a slow start on both ends of the floor to start the second half. The Knights’ defense looked a little sluggish, allowing opposing players to get open for easy shots. The Runnin’ Bulldogs made 50 percent of their shots in the first half of the third quarter.
However, the Knights were able to hold onto their lead as the defensive effort improved throughout the quarter. UCF also began relying on steals and fast break points to breathe life into the offense. The Knights, despite only scoring 12 points in the third, held a commanding 24 point lead going into the final quarter.
Despite a brief run by Gardner-Webb, UCF was able to easily close out the Runnin’ Bulldogs in the final quarter, winning by 14. The Knights will take on Georgia Southern on Dec. 17.