March 6, 2009
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NEW ORLEANS -
Emma Cannon posted a double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds while Chelsie Wiley had a game-high 26 points as fifth-seeded UCF defeated No. 4 seed Houston, 79-66, in the Conference USA Women's Basketball Championship Quarterfinals Friday afternoon at Fogelman Arena.
Cannon and Wiley combined for 26 first-half points to help stake the Knights to a 39-21 lead at the break. The Cougars actually outscored UCF in the second half, 45-40, but the early deficit proved too big to overcome. With the win, UCF improves to 15-16 on the year and advances to play top-seeded and regular-season champion SMU (20-10) in the semifinals on Saturday at 2 p.m. Houston, meanwhile, concludes its 2008-09 season at 19-10.
The two teams traded the first 12 points of the game, but with the score knotted at 6-all, UCF used a 10-0 run over the next 7:32 and never looked back. Houston cut the lead to six on a pair of free throws by Brittney Scott and a layup by Courtney Taylor, but the Knights answered with a 13-0 run to make it a 27-12 ballgame with 5:01 left to play in the first half. The lead swelled to as many as 21 in the opening stanza and the UCF went into the locker room at halftime on top 39-21.
UCF scored six of the first eight points following the break, but the Cougars would not go away quietly. Down by 22 less than two minutes into the second half, Houston used a 27-18 run over the next 11:42 to cut the deficit to 11 and later made it a nine-point affair at 70-61 with 1:55 left to play. That would be as close as UCF would allow the Cougars to get, though, as the Knights hit 7-of-8 free throws down the stretch to advance to the C-USA semis, which will be televised live nationally on CBS College Sports.
Wiley and Cannon were two of four UCF players to post double-digit scoring totals as Angelica Mealing had 12 and Aisha Patrick added 10. Mealing paced the Knights with seven assists and tallied a game-best four steals to aid the UCF effort.
Taylor led Houston in scoring with 19 points while Scott and Cobilyn Hill added 15 and 14, respectively. Taylor led the Cougars with nine rebounds and Jasmine Johnson tied UCF's Mealing for game-high assist honors with seven dimes of her own.