Ohio State knocks Knights out of tourney
Published: Sunday, March 20, 2011
Updated: Sunday, March 20, 2011 17:03
The Knights were riding high into the NCAA tournament. Winners of 11 straight games, UCF met Ohio State in the round of 64.
Though they were viewed as a heavy underdog, the Knights held tough throughout, but the Buckeyes proved to be too much defeating UCF 80-69.
Most often, the women's tournaments run chalk (favorites win all games), but UCF nearly upset the 4th seed Buckeyes. Turnovers, however, proved to be too much to overcome for UCF, as they end their season with a 22-11 record.
The Knights got as close as five points early in the second half and were in the game with little time left, but errors caught up to them.
"We outrebounded them and that was a huge part of our game plan, but we didn't count on having 18 turnovers," UCF coach Joi Williams said in a release. "We had done a better job with [turnovers] lately, but we didn't do a good job of it tonight. We kind of got rushed."
But the season was not a failure by any means. The Knights were crowned Conference USA champions just six days earlier.
The Buckeyes had an 18 point lead with four minutes to go, but UCF never gave up, chipping away at the margin with clutch shooting and great defensive stops. UCF scored 10 points in a row to get within 73-65 in the final two minutes. But junior guard Aisha Patrick missed a key layup, the ball seemed to sit on the rim forever, and Ohio State's Samantha Prahalis countered with a three point play, the proverbial dagger it seemed. Patrick finished with 8 points 8 rebounds and 6 assists.
UCF had no match for the Buckeyes key player on Saturday. All-American center Jantel Lavender, the four-time Big 10 Player of the Year, torched the Knights for 30 points and 11 rebounds. She was 13 of 22 from the field and even double and triple teams were not enough.
Junior forward Ashia Kelly had 16 points for UCF, while senior forward D'Nay Daniels added 16 points and 10 rebounds in her final game while also trying to guard Lavender. Senior guard Chelsie Wiley scored 11 points and became the school's all-time leader in 3-pointers made with 214. UCF outrebounded Ohio State 39-33 though it seemed that the Buckeyes had the bigger team.
UCF will graduate 5 seniors from this team but with the pieces left and a solid recruiting class, fans could see the Knights open as the preseason favorites to repeat as Conference USA champs.
"It's incredible to be associated with these young ladies and especially these five seniors," Williams said.
"They started (games) as freshmen and for them to go out with two championships under their belts and winning two of three years, it's phenomenal. It's tough for them right now and it's tough for me, but we'll look back at it when it's all said and done and be proud of the legacy that we've left. We've got to build on it next year because we've got a lot of good players coming in. I'm just excited about the future of UCF basketball."