ORLANDO, Fla. - Alyesha Lovett's (Newark, N.J./Malcolm X Shabazz) coast-to-coast lay-up with less than one second remaining capped a come-from-behind, 50-49 win for the University of Cincinnati women's basketball team over University of Central Florida Saturday evening.
The Bearcats were able to erase a nine-point deficit over the final four minutes and 21 seconds of the contest, capped by Lovett's last-second heroics. Kayla Cook (Webster, Ohio/South Webster) started the effort with a trey at the 4:20 mark that cut the UCF lead to six.
Following a pair of UCF free throws, Cincinnati found themselves down five with 2:22 remaining before Cook connected again from three-point range to bring UC within one score for the first time since the 5:25 mark of the first half. More than a minute and a half would tick off the clock before the next score after a pair of defensive stops for UC and one for UCF.
With 37 seconds remaining and still trailing by two, the Bearcats had a pair of golden opportunities to take the lead but both shots rolled off the rim and UCF collected the rebound. However, Jasmine Whitfield (Crestwood, Ky./South Oldham) swiped the ball away before the Knights even made it across half court giving UC a third chance at tying the game.
This time the Bearcats would not be denied as Lovett laid it in and was fouled, heading to the line with a chance to give UC the lead. The junior calmly nailed the free throw putting UC up 48-47 with 22 seconds left.
Jeanise Randolph (Chicago, Ill/Thornton Fractional North) nearly recorded the steal on the ensuing UCF possession, but the Knights recovered and Sara Djassi hit a jumper with six seconds left. Lovett then raced the full length of the court, hitting the game winner with less than one second on the clock. UCF fumbled the inbounds pass and UC escaped with the one-point victory.
Four Bearcats reached double digits in scoring for the first time since the 10th game of the season against Akron on December 17. Lovett's five points over the final 22 seconds gave her 13 for the game. The junior is averaging 17.6 points over the last three games.
Jasmine Whitfield finished with 10 points and tied her career-high rebounding effort with seven. Kayla Cook added 10 points, seven of which came in the second half. All four of Cook's steals also came in the final 20 minutes. Randolph rounded out the double-digit scorers, also scoring 10 points and adding seven rebounds. The senior also recorded two assists, two steals and one block.
UCF was led in scoring by Zykira Lewis who added 22 points off the bench. The Knight's leading-rebounder in Brittni Montgomery also came off the bench with 11.
Cincinnati trailed by eight at halftime after suffering a scoring drought of 8:35 that allowed UCF to turn a five-point deficit into a two-point lead. UCF added five more to make it a 16-2 run for the Knights.
The Bearcats return home on Saturday, March 1 to host No. 3/3 Louisville on senior day. The game will be televised on ESPN3.