The women’s basketball team has compiled its worst record in the last five years this season (6-21), putting a conference championship well out of sight.
Getting outscored 1,217-947 and averaging an atrocious 20.6 turnovers per game, the Knights have had as many as 12 straight losses spanning from Nov. 28, 2015 to Jan. 13. Mixed with a five-game losing streak with a conference record of 3-13, the Knights are on pace to finish with an even worse record than last season (10-21).
UCF’s struggles are partly due to its young team, comprised of seven underclassmen, five of whom are freshmen. But those seven underclassmen are relied upon heavily, as they have accounted for 63 percent of the 5,400 minutes logged by the team this season.
Recently, the Knights have found an energy plug in freshman forward Tolulope Omokore, who believes her approach to the game will eventually turn the Knights’ fortunes around.
“We just have to work hard every day,” Omokore said. “When I bring my energy and the girls see that … ‘man we got [to] feed off her energy [because] she’s so energizing everywhere.’ They see me work hard as a freshman, and I think they see me as motivation.”
Despite the team’s sorry record, Omokore was honored for a standout performances in her first two starts of her collegiate career this past week. Averaging 15.5 points and 9.0 rebounds, she netted the American Athletic Conference Freshman of the Week award.
Led by Omokore’s dominating 11 points and career-high 20 rebounds, the Knights managed to snap their five-game losing streak against SMU on Saturday. In the wire-to-wire 66-54 home victory, 43 of the Knights’ 66 points came from its underclassmen. Omokore’s rebound contributions alone came close to tying for the eighth-best single-game rebounding performance in UCF history.
Another standout, freshman guard Jamesha Paul scored seven points, three rebounds and a game-high four steals in her first collegiate start against the Mustangs. But the team was led in scoring by none other than junior guard Zykira Lewis, who tallied a game-high 21 points, eight rebounds and three assists in 38 minutes of action.
Following the impressive individual play by Okomore and Lewis in Saturday’s win, head coach Joi Williams made sure to recognize them.
“[Tolulope Okomore] is a beast on the boards. She just does stuff that requires a lot of heart, a lot of passion and aggressiveness,” Williams said in a release. “ ... [SMU] defended [Zykira] a lot of different ways. But I just really liked the fact that she was patient and made a lot of very good decisions today.”
Moving into fifth place for all-time scoring during the Mustangs matchup, Lewis realizes the season as a whole has been a disappointment and isn’t content with the team’s play or her own success for that matter.
“I’m happy that I’ve been doing a lot of these things, but I really want to be in the top of our conference,” Lewis said. “That’s what I really want before I leave.”
Coming off another victory, this time against Houston, the Knights will take on Temple in Philidelphia Feb. 29 at 7 p.m.
Christopher Davis is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future.