No. 25 UCF women beat USF 53-45, win first AAC championship

Mar 10, 2022, 7:26 AM | Updated: 9:31 pm
Central Florida's Diamond Battles (3) and teammates celebrate a win over South Florida in an NCAA c...

Central Florida's Diamond Battles (3) and teammates celebrate a win over South Florida in an NCAA college basketball game for the American Athletic Conference women's tournament championship Thursday, March 10, 2022, in Fort Worth, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Diamond Battles scored 17 points and No. 25 UCF pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat South Florida 53-45 on Thursday night to win the American Athletic Conference tournament championship.

Top-seeded UCF (25-3) won its first AAC tournament title, avenged a loss to South Florida (24-8) in last season’s championship and extended its winning streak to a program-best 13 games.

Neither team held more than three-point lead in the second half and it was tied at 40 with 5:23 to play. But the Knights scored the next nine points and ended the game on a 13-5 run. Battles and Destiny Thomas each had four points during the stretch. The Knights held South Florida to 17% shooting (2 of 12), forced seven turnovers and outscored the Bulls 16-6 in the fourth quarter.

Masseny Kaba added nine points and nine rebounds for UCF. Thomas finished with seven points and nine rebounds.

Entering the tournament, the Knights were allowing a nation-best 48.1 points per game and held SMU to 28 in Wednesday’s semifinal, but in this one they trailed 26-24 at halftime.

Elena Tsineke scored 14 points to lead No. 2 seed South Florida. Elisa Pinzan added nine points and Bethy Mununga grabbed 11 rebounds to go with seven points and five assists.

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No. 25 UCF women beat USF 53-45, win first AAC championship