Through three quarters of play between the UCF women’s basketball team and Houston, it was anyone’s game. After being outscored in the previous quarter, the Knights held just a six point lead against a team that they had easily defeated earlier in the season.
And then everything clicked.
UCF (14-9, 4-6 AAC) exploded on both ends of the floor, going on a 20-0 run to turn what was a close came into a total blowout in just a couple minutes. The Knights went on to beat the Cougars (9-15, 2-5) 85-59. It was the most points that UCF had scored in a game this season.
“I think we just really buckled down,” junior guard Aliyah Gregory said. “We had a lot of energy, we played hard, we played for each other and we played together and we got the win.”
Gregory and senior guard Zykira Lewis were practically unstoppable on offense, combining for 57 points on 56% shooting.
“If they can come out with that energy that they had, you know, and be able to score that many points, that’s really awesome,” coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson said.
UCF and Houston played a closely contested first quarter, even though the Knights had a much easier time scoring. UCF made eight of their first 15 shots and moved the ball well, recording five assists in the quarter.
The Knights allowed the Cougars to stay in the game, however, by committing a high number of fouls. Houston took advantage, making seven of their eight free throw attempts in the quarter. Going into the second quarter, the game was tied at 18.
UCF began to take off in the second, despite a strong offensive performance from Houston. While the Cougars’ field goal percentage climbed to 48%, the Knights continuously built their lead thanks to a three-point barrage from Lewis. She made three of her six attempts from deep in the quarter, giving UCF a 10-point lead at the half
Coming out of halftime, UCF’s offense continued to flow thanks to a huge performance from Gregory. Early in the quarter, she went on a 6-0 run, including a tough and-one and blocked a shot on the other end of the floor.
“It’s been really cool to see her grow. I’m glad we have her for one more year,” Abrahamson-Henderson said. “She’s a great leader, she’s a great teammate … I’m just so proud of her.”
Gregory went on to score all of the Knights’ points in the quarter, allowing UCF to hold onto a lead despite a late run from Houston. Going into the fourth, UCF was up by six.
While the game was relatively close at the start of the fourth quarter, UCF quickly turned it into a blowout. The Knights used their 20-0 run to take off and secure an easy win. UCF finished the game shooting 54% from the field while holding Houston to just 42% shooting.
UCF will head to Tulsa to take on the Golden Hurricane on Saturday. In their previous meeting this season, the Knights lost 73-62.
Christian Simmons is the assistant sports editor for the Central Florida Focus. You can follow him on Twitter at @ByCASimmons and you can email him at @ChristianS@centralfloridafocus.com.