After going into halftime tied for the second game in a row, the UCF women’s basketball team adjusted during the second half and defeated the SMU Mustangs 67-57 on Saturday at Addition Financial Arena.
The Knights went into the matchup against the American Athletic Conference opponent focused on both guards and post players after a 1-point loss to Temple on Wednesday.
The Knights struggled offensively in the first quarter but still led 17-6 — UCF shot 9-for-10 free-throws and 4-for-10 from field goal range.
“We go inside a lot to Brittany [Smith] because she is a beast, the post does a good job of kicking it out to the guards and sharing the ball,” senior guard Kay Kay Wright said after the game.
Overall, the Knights shot 15 of 20 free throws and made 25 of 52 attempts from in the paint.
Although the Knights were able to score offensively in the post, they struggled shooting from the outside tying the score to 32-32 at halftime.
The draw at halftime is something a little too familiar as the Knights went into the half 30-30 during the game against Temple on Wednesday.
“Experience comes from the next game, remember what happened at Temple,” UCF head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson said. “We have to play defense and guard the ball way better.”
The Knights came alive in the third quarter playing aggressively while forcing fouls and going to the line to shoot free throws.
Wright shot 4-for-4 at the free-throw line while scoring 8 points in the quarter. Overall, Wright scored 22 points in the game.
UCF sophomore forward Brittany Smith scored a total of 16 points against SMU while also finding open teammates mid-range.
“More of my teammates are open, so I try to rip through and give them those open shots,” Smith said.
Over the last ten games, Smith is averaging 13.2 points per game while shooting 58.9% percent from the floor.
The fourth quarter for the Knights was steady and the team only improved on the lead built in the third quarter.
UCF redshirt senior guard Sianni Martin scored 7 points and helped control the quarter with a defensive stop. Martin ended the game with 14 points.
UCF junior forward Courtajia Sanders and freshman forward Destiny Thomas stepped up in place of junior forward Masseny Kaba, who was unable to play.
Sanders contributed 4 points and 3 rebounds, while Thomas got 2 points and 10 rebounds for the Knights.
“Knowing that we have depth, and players can come off the bench, it felt good to have a lot of bodies out there,” Wright said.
With the win, the Knights improve to 12-8 overall and 4-4 in conference play and are ranked No. 6 in the AAC. The Mustangs fall to 9-11 overall and 3-5 in conference play with the loss.
The Knights will travel to face the Tulsa Golden Hurricane — who are 6-16 overall and 1-8 in conference play — on Wednesday with hopes to improve their conference rankings.
The Knights will face the Golden Hurricane at 8 p.m. and will be broadcast on the American Digital Network.