No. 1 UConn Handles UCF in Conference-opener

University of Central Florida head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson looks onto the court during an 84-48 loss to the University of Connecticut at CFE Arena on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2016. (Photo by Nathan Koons / New Day Review)
University of Central Florida head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson looks onto the court during an 84-48 loss to the University of Connecticut at CFE Arena on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2016. (Photo by Nathan Koons / New Day Review)

Game Recap

Facing the No. 1 team in the nation is already a tall task in itself. It doesn’t get any easier when that team is also playing for its 88th-straight win. Th University of Central Florida (10-4, 0-1 in American Athletic Conference) found out firsthand how difficult the competition is at the top on Sunday. The Knights (10-4, 0-1 in American Athletic Conference) lost 84-48 to the No. 1 UConn Huskies (13-0, 1-0 in AAC) at CFE Arena.

“It doesn’t get any tougher than this,” UCF guard Aliyah Gregory said after the game. “Having this game early kinda prepares us, like I said before, for the rest of the games in our conference schedule. They’re a tough team, and if we play them first, we can see the things that we really need to work on ‘cus they exploit a lot of our weaknesses.”

The story of the game was written by the end of the first quarter. UConn jumped ahead to a 24-6 advantage as Gregory, who would lead the Knights in scoring, scored her first four points. UConn’s Katie Lou Samuelson drained two of her three three-pointers in the first quarter to help the Huskies build their lead.

For Knights head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson, though, scoring six points was partly attributed to her team’s strategy of keeping the ball out of UConn’s hands.

“Well, honestly, I wasn’t trying to shoot the ball quick,” the head coach said after the game. “I did not want to give them the ball… So we were trying to get it down all the way to the shot clock, honestly, to choke the game a little bit. Obviously, that’s why we had six points in the first [quarter]. We need to do a better job defensively, but we were trying not to give them the ball.

“You can’t just go out and play against UConn—nobody can. You’re going to lose by 500 points, so we were really trying to slow the game down and bore them a little bit.”

In the third quarter, UCF was more competitive. The Knights scored 19 points in the third, three more than they had scored in the entire first half. They capped the game off with a 13-13 fourth quarter

“We were just being more aggressive,” Knights guard Zykira Lewis said after the game. “We was kinda being lax in the beginning, so we just wanted to be more aggressive and tried to get the ball in, and that’s what helped us in the second half.”

Said Gregory about what Abrahamson-Henderson said to her team at halftime: “She told us that when we go out, we’re just, like, holding the ball on the perimeter, not really looking to attack. We need to go in, attack, feed the post, get paint touches, score in the paint—just different things like that, and I think we really tried to execute that in the second half.”

Lewis scored 13 of her 15 points in the second half, and Gregory tallied the remaining eight of her 18 total points in the third and fourth quarters.

Player of the Game: Napheesa Collier

The UConn starting forward finished with a five rebounds, five assists and a game-high 22 points in her team-high 33 minutes. She shot the second-most shots for the Huskies (11) and made 10 of those shots.

What’s next?

UCF takes on their second AAC opponent when it travels to face the University of Cincinnati on Wednesday at 7 p.m.


  Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
University of Central Florida 6 10 19 13 48
University of Connecticut 24 21 26 13 84


Statistics and Starting Lineups

Team Leaders

  University of Central Florida University of Connecticut
Points Aliyah Gregory (18) Napheesa Collier (22)
Rebounds Fifi Ndour (7) Katie Lou Samuelson (7)
Assists Korneila Wright (4) Napheesa Collier, Kia Nurse (5)
Blocks Nyala Shuler (1) Gabby Williams (3)
Steals Korneila Wright (6) Katie Lou Samuelson (4)
Turnovers Aliyah Gregory (4) Napheesa Collier, Kia Nurse (4)
Minutes Aliyah Gregory (37) Napheesa Collier (33)

Team Statistics

  Points Rebounds Assists Blocks Steals Turnovers
University of Central Florida 48 26 7 1 11 21
University of Connecticut 84 32 21 7 11 21

Shooting Percentages

  University of Central Florida University of Connecticut
FG% 36.7% 63.3%
3FG% 9.1% 43.8%
FT% 60.0% 71.4%

UCF starting lineup: Korneila Wright (G), Zykira Lewis (G), Aliyah Gregory (G), Nyala Shuler (F), Tolulope Omokore (F)

UConn starting lineup: Kia Nurse (G), Saniya Chong (G), Katie Lou Samuelson (G), Gabby Williams (F), Napheesa Collier (F)