One game. That is all that separates the UCF women’s basketball team from another Conference USA championship.
UCF (16-17) is headed to its third title game in five years after its 89-77 win over No. 5 seed UTEP (22-10) in Friday’s semifinal game at the BOK Center.
The Knights now have a chance to make history as the lowest seed (No. 8) to win the tournament. They will face the winner of Tulsa-East Carolina at 8 p.m. ET Saturday in a nationally televised contest on CBS Sports Network for the chance at an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Friday’s victory was the epitome of a team win as six Knights scored in double figures to put up the most points by a team in a semifinal game and the seventh most in a single game in C-USA tournament history.
Freshman of the Year Briahanna Jackson paced with 18 points. Kayli Keough added a season-high 17 points. Sara Djassi sank 6-of-8 for a career-high 17 points in addition to a team-high 10 rebounds for her first career double-double. Gevenia Carter had 16 points, Erika Jones tallied 11 points and Andrea Hines matched her season-high 10 points.
For the second time since the tournament started, the Knights scored their most points in a half in two years. UCF’s 40 points against the Miners was two more than its production against Houston in the opening round.
The back-and-forth first half featured nine lead changes and seven tied scores. The Knights took their largest lead, 36-28, after an 11-2 run that was capped by Carter’s third 3-pointer of the game.
Foul trouble toward the end of the half put the Miners on the free throw line, where they were able to reclaim a 43-40 advantage at the break.
UCF’s heart only seemed to grow in size after halftime. It was evident that the team would leave nothing left on the BOK Center floor.
The frontcourt set the tone as Jones and Keough each made good on two and-1 plays thanks to opportunities set up by offensive rebounds to put their team back on top, 49-47.
Hines drilled a 3-pointer from the right wing and Jackson beat the shot clock buzzer with a long-range trey to cap the 9-0 run, and the team never looked back.
UCF now holds an 11-5 record in the post-season tournament, which includes a 2-0 mark in title games. The Knights are one of two teams to ever make a 4-0 run through the tournament, which they achieved in 2009 for their first title. UCF also won the 2011 championship.
In addition to watching the game on television, fans can tune into Scott Adams’ free audio broadcast, which is also available on mobile devices. Live stats are also available via UCFAthletics.com.