Cincinnati Tops UCF to Open American Tournament Play|
March 8, 2014
UNCASVILLE, Conn. - A 19-point scoring effort from Junior Alyesha Lovett (Newark, N.J./Malcolm X Shabazz) led the University of Cincinnati women's basketball team to a 54-52 win over UCF during the opening round of the inaugural American Athletic Conference Championship Friday evening.
Entering the second half trailing 26-24, Cincinnati made its first big run of the game early in the second half, using a 13-0 scoring advantage over a four-minute 20 second span to hold their largest lead of the night at 40-30.
Jasmine Whitfield (Crestwood, Ky./South Oldham) came alive offensively for UC, scoring eight of her nine points during a one minute and 35 second span. The sophomore's jumper at 16:28 gave Cincinnati its first lead of the game at 31-30. She wasn't finished there, following up with a three and another lay-up on UC's next two possessions. Her free throw following the made bucket capped her scoring spree.
However, the game proved to be far from over as UCF countered UC's run with a 5-0 scoring advantage of their own that put the score at 42-37 with 9:04 to play. A score from Andrea Hines followed by a three from Zykira Lewis cut UC's lead down to one with 5:23 to play.
The senior class answered for the Bearcats with a jumper from Randolph followed by a three from Kayla Cook (Webster, Ohio/South Webster) to push the advantage back to four with just over three minutes to play. A jumper from Marley Hill (Reynoldsburg, Ohio/Africentric) made it a six-point UC lead with just 1:54 to play.
UC would hold the same lead with 15 seconds to play before a flurry of scoring from UCF nearly tied the game. Hines' jumper cut the lead to four and then the Knights were able to record the steal on the ensuing inbounds play, leading to a score from Brittini Montgomery with nine seconds remaining.
Lovett broke UCF's press on the next possession but her lay-up rolled just off the rim and possession went back to UCF with just under four seconds. Hines launched a half-court heave at the buzzer that narrowly deflected off the right side of the rim and UC escaped with a 54-52 tournament win.
Lovett finished with 19 points on 7-of-18 shooting and pulled down eight rebounds. Randolph recorded her 11th double-double of the season with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Hill added eight points on 3-of-5 shooting off the bench.
The Bearcats advance to play No. 1 seed and regular season champion UConn in Saturday's quarterfinals at 2:00 p.m.