Women's basketball crowned C-USA champs
Published: Sunday, March 13, 2011
Updated: Sunday, March 13, 2011 20:03
Entering the 2011 Conference USA Championship game against Tulane in El Paso, Texas, the Knights dreamed of revenge against the team that shattered their title hopes last season.
The women's basketball team's dream became a reality when UCF (22-10, 12-4) defeated Tulane (22-10, 9-7) 85-73 on March 12 to secure their second C-USA title in three seasons and earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
"We stuck together, we trusted what the coaches told us and we trusted each other and we came into this game with a chip on our shoulder," said junior guard Aisha Patrick in a release. "They beat us 63-62 last year and that was in the back of our heads. We came out with a sense of urgency and played so well together."
Patrick, who had 11 points and 12 rebounds, earned her first double-double of the tournament. She also chipped in seven steals and six assists.
Senior forward Jelisa Caldwell also had a double-double, scoring a game-high 27 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. It was the first of her career.
The Knights have now had three games this year where multiple players achieved double-doubles.
"We believed in each other, think of each other as sisters and made sure we had each other's backs throughout the game," said Caldwell, who was named the MVP of the tournament. "That, and rebounding of course, is what helped us win a second championship."
Caldwell, along with seniors Chelsie Wiley and D'Nay Daniels now have two C-USA Championship rings. The three seniors were also named to the All-Tournament team.
Wiley tallied 13 points to secure sole possession of third place in UCF history for career points with 1,520.
"It's been such a long journey for these seniors," said coach Joi Williams. "Going into the month of February we talked about playing as well as we could and we did that and I can't say enough about these five seniors and this team. We played with that sense of urgency and I'm so proud of them."
UCF had to overcome adversity earlier in the season, entering February with an 11-10 record. The Knights are now riding high on an 11-game win streak into the NCAA tournament and the seniors hope to cap off their legacy with another championship.
"[Winning a second title] is something that's very special to us and it's a legacy that we can pass down to our freshmen and sophomores," Wiley said. "We've left our footprint and this is something that they can chase after."
UCF will learn its NCAA Tournament fate on Selection Monday on ESPN on 7 p.m. and then play a first-round game on either March 19 or 20 at one of 16 predetermined sites around the nation. The Knights will be making their fourth appearance in the national showcase, previously qualifying in 1996, 1999 and 2009.