The NCAA.com women's basketball Team of the Week, UCF, started the new year with four straight wins, including two last week over Houston and South Florida that propelled the Knights into sole possession of first place in the American Athletic Conference.
UCF improved to 12-2 overall and 4-0 in the AAC following a 67-51 home win over then-No. 24 South Florida on Sunday. A trio of Knights finished in double figures, led by Diamond Battles' 19 points, while Tay Sanders added 18 points. Alisha Lewis chipped in 12 points with six assists and four steals. Masseny Kaba collected all six of her team-leading rebounds on the offensive glass. UCF was able to jump out to an early lead and never looked back in scoring its first win over a ranked opponent this season. As a team, UCF shot 52 percent or better in the first three quarters, finishing at 49.1 percent from the field overall.
𝙏𝙝𝙚 play of the game@lishswag23 did that 😏 #ChargeOn pic.twitter.com/KD4kGtnDS5— UCF Women's Hoops (@UCF_WBB) January 16, 2022
Earlier in the week on Jan. 11, UCF held off a late fourth-quarter Houston rally to defeat the Cougars, 62-59. Sanders led the way for UCF with a career-high 23 points, shooting 53.3 percent from the field. Brittney Smith added 16 off the bench while Destiny Thomas nearly tallied a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds.
Key to the win over Houston was UCF’s defense, led by Lewis, who tied the UCF and AAC single game records with 10 steals in the game. Lewis is the first Knight with 10 steals in a single game since 1988. UCF forced Houston into 24 turnovers which led to 25 points for the Knights. The Black and Gold also scored 30 points in the paint and used 12 offensive rebounds to score 15 second chance points.
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The victories last week over Houston and South Florida continued to strengthen UCF’s overall team resume. Earlier in the season the Knights had scored non-conference wins over Arkansas, Virginia and USC. Key dates to circle on the upcoming schedule for UCF include an important conference game at SMU (9-6, 3-0) this week on Jan. 19 and a rematch at South Florida on Feb. 13.