University of Central Florida head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson touted the Knights’ 2016-17 season as a new beginning. That new beginning got off on the right foot, as UCF defeated Florida International University 69-52 Friday night at FIU Arena.
“I’m very excited for the team to be able to get their first win on the road,” Abrahamson-Henderson said after the game, per UCF Athletics. “Our defense won this game… Our defense ignited our offense, and we got some good transition plays.”
Defense was something the Knights had been focusing on all offseason and leading up to the game against FIU. The Knights proved to be an effective force on the defensive end, holding the Panthers to 10 points in the second quarter.
That second quarter was where the Knights broke the game open. With the score tied at 28-24 with 2:57 left before halftime, the Knights began a 13-0 run that extended into the third quarter. The run was led by junior guard Aliyah Gregory and junior forward Fifi Ndour, who contributed five and four points, respectively, during the run.
Ndour saw the defense as being a key factor in the victory. FIU finished with a 38.3 percent field-goal percentage.
“Our defense played well,” Ndour said after the game, per UCF Athletics. “We got some steals and easy layups. It’s good to see everyone in position on defense and play well. It feels great to start the season with a win. This is really good motivation for us. I feel like it’s going to encourage us to be focused for the next game.”
Ndour finished the game with eight rebounds and a team-high 14 points and 33 minutes of play.
UCF also dominated the rebounding category, out-rebounding the Panthers 52-17. Redshirt senior forward Joslyn Massey contributed mightily to the effort, recording 11 offensive rebounds and 11 points in 25 minutes.
“I thought we did a great job of rebounding,” Abrahamson-Henderson said. “When you have 52 rebounds and 30 were offensive, that’s huge.”
UCF is now 11-29 all-time against the Panthers.
Player of the Game: Joslyn Massey
With Massey’s 11 offensive rebounds, the Knights were at least able to attempt more shots. Her double-double was also the only of the game. She finished with an efficient 4-for-7 from the field and 3-for-6 from the free-throw line.
The Knights return to Orlando for their season-opener on Sunday against the University of South Alabama at CFE Arena at 2 p.m.
Orlando Native Sees 1st Collegiate Action
True freshman guard Korneila Wright made her first appearance for the Knights Friday against the Panthers. Wright was a four-star recruit out of Jones High School in Orlando, Fla. She finished one rebound and one point shy of a double-double. Wright also tied with the Panthers’ Kayla Rogers with a game-high four assists. However, Wright failed to take care of the ball, accounting for eight of the Knights’ 25 turnovers.
Statistics and Starting Lineups
|Florida International University||52||15||11||5||8||24|
|University of Central Florida||69||52||7||2||813||25|
FIU starting lineup: Nikolina Todorovic (G), Amari Hawkins (G), Kristian Hudson (G), Janka Hegedus (F), Kiandre’a Pound (F)
UCF starting lineup: Ashley Polacek (G), Nyala Shuler (G), Aliyah Gregory (G), Fifi Ndour (F), Tolu Omokore (F)