Game 9: UCF Advances to C-USA Championship Game with 62-51 win over top seeded SMU
March 7, 2009
NEW ORLEANS - UCF forward Emma Cannon had 18 points and 19 rebounds as the fifth-seeded Knights rallied late to upset No. 1 seed and regular-season champion SMU, 62-51, Saturday afternoon in the 2009 Conference USA Women's Basketball Championship Semifinals at Fogelman Arena.
The Mustangs led 43-39 with 8:09 left in regulation, but the Knights got back-to-back baskets by Cannon and a pair of free throws by Angelica Mealing over the next 1:50 to claim a 45-43 advantage. SMU reclaimed the lead 30 seconds later on a 3-pointer by Jillian Samuels, but UCF answered with a jumper by Marshay White to take the lead for good.
With the win, UCF improves to 16-16 on the year and advances to the C-USA Championship Game against the winner of Saturday's semifinal matchup between Southern Miss and Marshall on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Not since the 2003 season has a five seed or lower played for the tournament title. SMU, meanwhile, falls to 20-11 on the year and will have to wait until the NCAA Selection show to find out if its body of work during the 2008-09 season was enough to earn an at-large bid to the Big Dance. If not, the Mustangs will be the league's automatic selection into the 2009 WNIT.
Following White's basket to stake UCF to a 47-46 advantage with 4:13 remaining in regulation, the Knights' defense held SMU to just one basket - a 3-pointer by LaShandra Hill with 60 seconds on the clock - the rest of the way. The UCF offense, meanwhile, attempted just one shot from the floor the rest of the way, but converted on 13-of-16 chances from the free throw line to account for the final score.
The two teams traded the first 16 points of the ballgame, and UCF used a 7-2 run to claim a 15-10 advantage with 9:22 remaining in the opening stanza. SMU rallied to take an 18-17 lead with 4:28 on the clock before halftime, but UCF outscored the Mustangs 7-2 the rest of the half to go into the break on top, 24-20.
SMU scored the first six points of the second half to claim a 26-24 lead 2:41 into the period and led by as many as four six times over the next nine-plus minutes. UCF hung tough, though, and hit its free throws down the stretch to advance to the championship game, which will be televised live on ESPN2.
Cannon was one of three UCF players to finish with a double-digit scoring total, joining Marshay White and Mealing with 13 and 10, respectively. Mealing led the Knights with three assists and a pair of blocked shots.
The Knights held a solid 51-to-39 advantage on the boards and Cannon's 19 ties for third most for a C-USA Championship game. Her 13 defensive boards matches the second most in a tournament game.
Giliam and Haley Day tied for the SMU scoring lead with 11 apeice while Samuels finished with 10. Day finished one rebound shy of a double-double with nine caroms, Samuels topped the club with four assists and Gilliam paced the squad with a game-high four steals.
2009 C-USA CHAMPIONSHIP BRACKET