Dec. 8, 2011
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By John Denton
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Senior guard Aisha Patrick returned to the floor on Thursday night, but her presence wasn't enough to boost UCF to a victory over Florida Gulf Coast.
Trailing by just eight points at halftime, UCF's ball-handling woes and the Eagles' hot second-half shooting conspired to result in a 75-36 Knights loss at UCF Arena.
UCF (3-5) turned the ball over 29 times -- 16 times in the first half and 13 times after the intermission -- resulting in a defeat that was shocking to the Knights. Florida Gulf Coast (6-1), who boasts wins this season over Michigan State, Richmond and East Tennessee State, scored 34 points off UCF's miscues for the win.
"That's got to be one of the most embarrassing losses in terms of effort, taking care of the ball and making decisions. And that's taking nothing away from Florida Gulf Coast," UCF coach Joi Williams said. "We knew that they were a very good team and everything they did we knew they would do. But they carried out their game plan and we didn't do it defensively or in taking care of the ball."
The loss came on a day in which UCF celebrated its pending entrance into the Big East Conference. The Knights accepted an all-sports bid from the Big East on Wednesday, and on Thursday, Williams spoke about the challenges of competing in women's basketball's toughest league. The Knights will begin Big East play in the 2013-14 season.
Patrick, UCF's do-everything guard and senior leader, returned after missing the past three games because of a death in the family. The All-C-USA preseason pick was admittedly rusty and winded after playing for the first time in almost two weeks. She led the Knights with 11 points while junior forward Kayli Keough also scored in double figures for the Knights with 10 points.
"That's the worst game that I've ever played in. We didn't execute what the coaches told us and we didn't get rebounds," Patrick said. "I was very (rusty) and it was sad on my part. I'll come back in practice and do what it takes and execute coach's game plan."
Patrick, who has been a central figure on two UCF teams that have won Conference USA titles in the past three seasons, said now is a time for her to step up more as a leader and make sure the team is better prepared to play. Patrick said hard work in practice will ultimately turn around the Knights' season.
"I do speak up, but I'm the type who likes to talk to people afterward and not during the heat of the moment," said Patrick, whose Knights next host Savannah State on Sunday at 2 p.m. "I'll try to calm everybody down and tell them it's not the end of the world because we still have a lot of games left. We have to get back to doing what we know how to do."
John Denton's Knights Insider appears on UCFAthletics.com several times a week. E-mail John at firstname.lastname@example.org.