Wiley hit a clutch 3-pointer with 2:58 to play to cap a furious rally all the way back from a 15-point halftime deficit. And down the stretch, the Knights made all the plays to defeat UAB 51-47 and advance to Friday’s semifinals.
The 15-point comeback was UCF’s biggest in a victory so far this season. Previously, the Knights biggest rally in a victory this season came on Feb. 17 against Tulane. They rallied back from 10 points back with 7:28 to play and won in overtime.
Also, the Knights won for the first time all season when trailing at the half. UCF had previously been 0-7.
The Knights will play the winner of the Rice-Memphis game on Friday at 11 a.m. ET.
The second-seeded Knights had a first-round bye for the first time in six years of playing in the C-USA tourney. UCF beat UAB twice during the regular season — 53-50 in Birmingham, Ala. on Feb. 24 and 65-55 at UCF on Jan. 13.
Wiley, UCF’s leading scorer during the regular season at 14.2 points per game, missed her first nine shots and all four of her 3-point attempts in Thursday’s game. But she never hesitated on the 3-pointer that put the Knights into the lead for the first time since 9-8 early in the first half.
Senior forward D’Nay Daniels scored 18 points, while junior guard Ashia Patrick chipped in 15 points. Daniels had 11 in the second half, while Patrick scored all 15 of her points after halftime.
UCF made 11 of 26 shots in the second half after a sloppy first half in which it made just five of 24 tries.
Unable to get much going at all offensively and showing signs of rust after being off the past seven days, UCF trailed UAB 27-12 at halftime.
UCF actually led 7-2 early in the game and seemed ready to build a big lead, but then its offense fell apart when shots wouldn’t fall. At one point in the first half, UCF missed 10 shots in a row and 14 of 15 during one stretch.
UCF led 9-8 midway through the first half on a steal and layup by Daniels. But from there, UCF struggled on both ends of the floor and a 15-1 burst by UAB put the Knights behind 23-10. Daniels’ bank shot with 2:41 to play in the half ended an offensive drought of 10 straight misses for UCF.
UCF made just five of 24 shots in the first half and missed all five of its 3-point attempts.
Wiley, UCF’s leading scorer on the season at 14.2 points per game, missed all seven of her shots in the first half. Daniels, who averaged 14 points during the regular season, had six first-half points on three of seven shooting.
John Denton’s Knights Insider appears on UCFAthletics.com several times a week. E-mail John at [email protected]