Knights pull away from Lynn in exhibition, 65-55
Published: Sunday, November 6, 2011
Updated: Monday, November 7, 2011 13:11
Attack! Attack! Attack!
That was the new ringing theme for UCF senior guard Aisha Patrick to follow after leading her teammates with a 65-55 win on Sunday's home exhibition game against Lynn University.
Head coach Joi Williams, who recently signed a five-year contract extension this past September, gave Patrick the duty to serve as a defender and a distributor for her teammates last year.
With D'Nay Daniels and Chelsie Wiley graduated, Williams has now handed Patrick the keys to crank up the offensive tempo and to carry the scoring load on her shoulders.
Patrick stuffed the stat sheet by scoring 23 points after shooting nine-of-19 from the field, four points coming from the free throw line. Even though Patrick is not a renowned perimeter shooter, she still managed to knock down her one and only three-point attempt.
Patrick also managed to haul in eight rebounds.
"We've been working on setting good screens, making good cuts and better reads," Patrick stated. "My teammates are doing a wonderful job of screening for me to get me open and I'm just reading off them."
Williams has made it clear that Patrick is the Knights' leader.
"The reality of it is that this team is kind of going to go as she goes," Williams said. "Our opponents know that, but that's something that Aisha is accepting. She knows that she has to lead this team."
Patrick wasn't the only Knight who had a stellar performance; center Erika Jones pulled in a career-high of 18 rebounds, six of which were offensive rebounds. Jones also scored 14 points on six-of-13 shots
from the field. Her presence helped her fellow Knights to keep themselves in the game.
"I've figured out with the players that we lost last year I have to step up and get on the boards." Jones added. "I want to make my team proud and my coaches as well."
Jones looked to be a presence in the paint for the Knights, as Williams praised her abilities to go up for loose balls.
"Erika Jones obviously did a really good job and we've been on her about rebounding and really being a presence in the paint; (and) I thought she answered that call tonight so I'm really proud of her effort on the boards and really making hustle plays," Williams said. "I thought she did a really good job and filled up the stats in some good ways."
Within the first four minutes of the game, Lynn alarmed Williams by going off on a 13-3 run.
"Coach talked to us about defense and we all got it together," Patrick said after Williams pulled the team in for a timeout.
The tables turned immediately once UCF challenged a few of the Fighting Knights' possessions.
Finally, UCF secured a comfortable lead with a 16-2 run to end the first half.
In the second half, the Knights maintained to stay atop and they also
managed to outscore the Fighting Knights by as much as 14 points.
Lynn cut their deficit late in the second half by as little as five points. Lynn's offense, the majority of it coming from three-point shooting, seemed to bothersome for the Knights as Lynn attempted 27 shots behind
the arc (connecting on 33.3 percent of them).
The loose perimeter defense for the Knights was a concern for Williams.
"We did a poor job on contesting shots. We did a poor job on closing out shooters. We talked to our team in the timeout," Williams said. "At that point, it's up to us to have more of a sense of urgency to get out there and contest shots and we didn't quite have that tonight, so, that's something we'll work a lot on in practice, something that we've worked on all week. We'll continue to work on to get better because good teams are going to knock down shots. We got to get there to be there."
Had it not been for a Jones layup, freshman guard Bryeasha Blair's free throw and a pair of free throws Patrick aced in the late seconds of the game, the results could have altered.
"Lynn is a very good team in its league and they competed, but the competition is going to be twice this next Saturday [against South Alabama]," Williams said. "Sometimes you have to learn the hard way, but the good thing is we could learn today and win. But we have to take it into our own hands and control our destiny."
The key to the Knights' success this season, Williams explained, is the teams' focus and consistency.
"I think we can be really good, but we have a lot of work to do to do that. Potential means nothing," Williams said. "This conference is wide open and our non-conference schedule is set up in a great way for us to have a great non-conference season. One thing we've talked about is taking the focus to a different level in practice because that's where it really starts."