Despite a 10-2 start to the season, losing has become more and more common for the UCF women’s basketball team. After being blown out at home by Tulsa 73-62 on Saturday, coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson has had enough.
“Obviously, we have to commit to defense all the time because we’re not a great scoring team … we scored 62 but the other team scored way too many points,” she said after the game. “I’ll be making some changes.”
Despite being the much better team on paper, UCF (12-7, 2-4) looked outmatched. The Golden Hurricane (6-13, 2-4) managed to score 73 points on 49% shooting, including making eight of their 16 three point attempts. The only bright spot for the Knights, who shot 36% from the field, was junior guard Aliyah Gregory, who finished with a game-high 25 points.
“Aliyah’s been consistent all year long,” Abrahamson-Henderson said. “I’ve always said Aliyah’s our best player and that’s not because she puts up points, it’s because she does everything.”
UCF looked overwhelmed on defense early on, allowing Tulsa to start the game on a 10-0 run. The Golden Hurricane were able to make a variety of shots, shooting over 50% in the quarter. The Knights had an equally tough time on offense, having difficulty moving the ball and finding open looks. UCF was able to stay in the game primarily due to free throws. Despite shooting just 29% in the quarter, the Knights were six-of-nine from the charity stripe. Going into the second, UCF trailed 19-14.
Despite their offensive struggles in the first quarter, UCF came out hot to start the second. The Knights immediately went on an 8-0 run, making four of their first five shots and forcing multiple turnovers. UCF shot 58% from the field in the quarter.
Gregory was huge for the Knights in the first half, coming off screens to make a number of open mid-range jump shots.
“Our post players were setting really great screens,” she said. “We were running offenses where we were getting a lot of screen and rolls and I was just getting pull-up jumpers easy.”
Gregory finished the half with 15 points on 67% shooting. UCF took a one-point lead into halftime.
Coming out of halftime, the game started to slip away from UCF. The Knights continued to have a tough time containing the Golden Hurricane’s offense, allowing Tulsa to shoot 50% from behind the arc. UCF also had trouble scoring, making only four of their 16 shots and turning the ball over five times in the quarter. Going into the fourth, the Knights trailed 46-42.
In the fourth quarter, UCF continued to struggle greatly on both ends of the floor as Tulsa steadily built up their lead. With a couple minutes left and UCF trailing by double digits, the Knights put together a small run, hitting a pair of threes, to make it a six-point game with just under a minute to go. Despite the run, there just wasn’t enough time for the Knights to get back in the game.
The Knights went on to lose by 11 and recorded just seven assists in the game, tying their season-low. UCF will take on Cincinnati at home on Tuesday. In the teams’ previous meeting this season, the Bearcats won 63-57.
“If we play with no passion and no effort and, you know, no fire then the third best team in the league is gonna come in here and it’s not gonna be pretty so we have to change that,” Abrahamson-Henderson said. “Hopefully, they’ll understand Cincinnati’s a really good team.”
Christian Simmons is the Assistant Sports Editor for the Central Florida Focus. You can follow him on Twitter at @ByCASimmons and email him at ChristianS@centralfloridafocus.com.