Dec. 11, 2011
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By Jenna Marina
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - A strong first half paved the rest of the way for the UCF women's basketball team's 62-48 win over Savannah State on Sunday afternoon at the UCF Arena. The Knights (4-5) came out with unrelenting intensity - grabbing more rebounds, swiping more steals and pushing the tempo offensively - to deliver Savannah State's (4-5) third-straight loss.
"That's what we've been talking about since the last game - playing with a lot of heart and a lot of effort," Head Coach Joi Williams said. "I thought we did a better job today. Was it as good as we have? Absolutely not. We still have a ways to go, but I think the energy and the intensity level that we started the game with helped us to build that lead in the first half."
Senior guard Aisha Patrick led the Knights with 15 points while sophomore forward Erika Jones grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds.
UCF also received a boost from the bench in freshmen guards Bryeasha Blair (7 points) and Andrea Hines (6 points). During UCF's 17-4 run to close out the first half, the pair accounted for nine of the Knights' points. Blair capped the first half with a fast break layup off a pass from Kayli Keough to give UCF a 37-23 edge heading into the locker room, which matched the team's largest halftime advantage this season.
"I thought they brought energy. Both of them are very good athletes and have the ability to really impact the game," Williams said. "I was glad they got in and got some positive minutes because it's been tough in practice. It was good to see their work in practice pay off today, and hopefully they can gain some confidence from that and carry it over to the next game."
The Tigers hovered closely throughout the second half, cutting the deficit to single digits on seven occasions. But after Ezinne Kalu's layup put the score at 51-43 with 3:24 remaining, Patrick took over for the Knights.
First, she swished a three from the left corner off an assist from Ashia Kelly on an inbounds play. On the next possession, she drove into the lane for a jumper. Following that, guard Gevenia Carter threaded a pass to Patrick underneath the basket for an easy bucket to give UCF a comfortable 12-point lead with 1:25 remaining before the Knights added two more layups for the win.
UCF will take a week-long break before their next game, which tips off at 1 p.m. against Virginia Tech on Dec. 18 at home.