UCF had taken Tulane’s best punches, weathering a push right before the half and another where the Green Wave led by as many as 11 points in the second half. But UCF responded each time and had control of the game with 60 seconds to play. But errors down the stretch – something that didn’t happen in Monday’s defeat of Marshall, but has been a reoccurring problem most of the season – doomed UCF’s chances on Tuesday.
When Chassity Brown converted a fastbreak layup with six seconds left and UCF’s Aisha Patrick couldn’t made a desperate runner at the horn, the Knights were left with a gut-wrenching 63-62 loss and painful thoughts of what could have been.
“Obviously, we’re very disappointed because we came here with great expectations. It’s disappointing because we felt like we had the game and let it slip through our hands,” UCF coach Joi Williams said. “We have a lot to learn from this game. Hopefully this loss will propel us forward and we’ll take it into next season.”
The loss ends a wildly erratic 11-16 season for a Knights team that had hoped to use this tournament to make up for a subpar regular season. UCF returns all of its core players and in many ways is already looking forward to next season.
“Everything happens for a reason and we’ve just got to come back as seniors next year strong and with more of a sense of urgency,” said junior forward Emma Cannon, who had 12 points and eight rebounds off the bench. “Our freshman year when we lost in the first round it drove us to the point where we won the conference championship the next year. We’ll remember this feeling because it won’t go away. We’ll remember this during the offseason and next season.”