Ashley Clark scored a game-high 23 points to lead Tulsa to a 70-61 victory over the UCF Knights Saturday afternoon in front of 887 fans at the Donald W. Reynolds Center.
Tulsa improved to 11-10 overall and 6-4 in American Athletic Conference play, while UCF fell to 7-14 and 3-7 in The American.
Head Coach Matilda Mossman picked up her 200th career win and her 53rd at TU. She had 67 wins at Arkansas and 80 wins at Kansas State.
Clark also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds to go along with three assists and two steals. Mariah Turner added 12 points and six boards for the Hurricane. UCF's Fifi Ndour led three double-figure scorers with 15 points, followed by Andrea Hines with 13 and Aliyah Gregory with 10 points.
“I thought that was a great team effort tonight. Erika Wakefield was really good in the first half and Teanna Reid was really good in the second half in terms of what they gave us at the point guard position. Autura came in and gave us nine good minutes to rest Mariah. Ashley Clark gave us a really good boost off the bench. She attacked the basket and got rebounds,” said Mossman.
“It's the first time all year we've won three in a row. That is what the kids were saying before the game, ‘We are on a roll, let's keep this going.' We thought it would be in our favor to have two home games this week and a bye mid-week next week. We can't go soft now and feel comfortable. We have to maintain what we've done,” added Mossman.
The Hurricane held the American Athletic Conference's leading scorer Zykira Lewis, averaging 20.2 points coming into the game, to a season-low seven points. Lewis scored her first basket with a three-pointer to start the second half giving the Knights a 32-29 lead.
“It was a conscious effort to not let Zykira be comfortable, make her take it off the dribble and make sure we had help-side defenders,” said Mossman.
Tulsa overcame a slow start and didn't take the lead for good until 4:53 remaining in the contest. The lead changed hands six times in the second half. Reid's three-pointer at the 9:18 mark put the Hurricane ahead 49-46, as the Knights would only tie the score one more time at 54-54 on a Brittni Montgomery layup with 4:53 left on the game clock.
The Hurricane then closed out the game on a 16-7 run for the victory.
UCF jumped out on Tulsa early to take a 10-1 lead in the first four minutes, but the Hurricane went on a 9 to 2 run to cut the Knights lead to 12-10 at the 11:29 mark. After missing their first seven shots to start the game, the Hurricane hit nine of their next 11 shots and took a 23-15 lead at the 7:42 mark.
Tulsa took its only double-digit lead in the first half at 29-19 after Clark knocked down two free throws at the 3:56 mark. UCF closed out the first half by scoring the next 10 points as the two teams went into the intermission tied at 29.
Clark finished the first-half with a game-high 10 points for the Hurricane, as the Tulsa bench out-scored UCF by a 20-6 count.
Tulsa will be back in action next Saturday at Houston for a 2:00 p.m. game that will be aired live on ESPN3. The Hurricane will be back at the Reynolds Center on Tuesday, Feb. 10, to host the Temple Owls in a 7:00 p.m. game.