The UCF women's basketball team battled until the buzzer but came up short at No. 14 Iowa, dropping a 68-61 decision in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday evening.
UCF (8-2) traded baskets and leads with the Hawkeyes (6-3) in the opening frame before a 6-0 spurt put the home team ahead 17-13 at the end of the first 10 minutes.
Iowa led by as many as 11 points in the second quarter, 26-15, but the Knights stayed steady. UCF used a 14-2 run, which included three consecutive three-pointers from Ahna Burney, to swing the score in the Knights favor, 31-28. The teams entered the locker room tied at 31-31.
The Hawkeyes used a 25-point third quarter to push their lead out to double figures and held a 56-43 edge going into the final period.
A 10-2 run from Tay Sanders and Diamond Battles pulled UCF within five, 58-53, with just over seven minutes remaining. Iowa responded with an 8-0 run to push its lead back to double figures, 66-53, but UCF never let up. The Knights collected four steals in the final four minutes and closed out the game outscoring the Hawkeyes 8-3 but were unable to close the gap in a 69-61 defeat.
Three Knights finished in double figures. Tay Sanders recorded her first 20-point contest of the season. Diamond Battles added 12 points with three assists and four steals. Alisha Lewis chipped in 10 points with four steals. Masseny Kaba and Destiny Thomas each collected eight rebounds while Neila Luma collected a season-best seven boards. Thomas matched her career highs with four steals and three assists for the Knights.
The Knights collected a season-high 16 steals and forced Iowa into a season-high 23 turnovers.
UCF closes out 2021 on the road at Princeton on Dec. 29. The Knights and the Tigers tip at 5 p.m. on ESPN+.