Houston Roundball Review: Women's Hoops

This is The Houston Roundball Review's (www.TheHRR.com) blog to discuss women's basketball. The HRR began in 1994 and has been media credentialed to cover college and pro hoops since 1997. Member of the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA).

Monday, January 28, 2008

KSU's Gipson and OU's D-Rob Earn Big 12 Honors

Marlies Gipson (Kansas State) was named Phillips 66 Big 12 Women's Basketball Player of the Week while Danielle Robinson (Oklahoma) was chosen Rookie of the Week by a media voting panel for games of Jan 22-28.

Gipson was honored for the second time in her career while Robinson was recognized for the fourth time this season.

Gipson helped the Wildcats to their first 6-0 start in Big 12 history with two victories this week, including a 68-63 upset win at No. 14/13 Oklahoma State.

Robinson averaged 12 points, 6.5 assists and three steals in the Sooners' 78-39 victory over Texas Tech and 65-57 defeat of No. 17/14 Georgia last week.
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TU's Williams earns C-USA Honor

Tulsa's Larrissa Williams has been named Conference USA Women's Basketball Player of the Week after guiding the Golden Hurricane to a 70-68 come-from-behind victory at SMU Saturday. Williams recorded a game-high 21 points and played a part in five of TU's final seven points.

2007 - 2008 C-USA Basketball Players of the Week


Jan. 28 -- LaRissa Williams, Tulsa.
Jan. 21 -- Twiggy McIntyre, Houston.
Jan. 14 -- Diamond Rogers, UAB, and Jareica Hughes, UTEP.
Jan. 7 --- Twiggy McIntyre, Houston.
Dec. 30 -- Kizzy Hart, Marshall.
Dec. 24 -- Crystal McFadden, UAB.
Dec. 17 -- Casey Baker, Marshall.
Dec. 10 -- LaToya Terry, East Carolina & Pauline Love, Southern Miss.
Dec. 3 --- Delisha Wills, SMU.
Nov. 26 -- Janielle Dodds, SMU.
Nov. 20 -- Maudess Fulton, Rice & Crystal McFadden, UAB.
Nov. 12 -- Valeriya Berezhynska, Rice.
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Saturday, January 26, 2008

UH 70, Rice 64

The Rice Owls and the Houston Lady Cougars played a rivalry game this afternoon on the campus of Houston Baptist University inside HBU's Sharp Gym.

Houston (11-9, 5-1) won the game 70 to 64; however, in the second half, the Owls (8-12, 1-5) played with a newly found determination and toughness which brought them back from an 18-point deficit and gave them a chance to win the ball game.

The win is Houston's fifth straight.

After playing numerous awful first halves, Houston finally displayed good basketball skills and efficiency in the game's opening 20 minutes. UH shot 50% (14 for 28) from the field and 4 for 5 from the "Land of Three" and took a 34 to 23 lead into halftime. Eight different players scored the the Lady Cougars in the first half.

"Coach Hughes challenged us to come out and play well in the first half," said UH senior Whitney James. "We just came out and played ready."

"We concentrated really, really hard to come out strong," added Houston's Courtney Taylor.

Instead of playing well for a full 40 minutes, UH switched up their routine from previous games and played poorly in the second half as opposed to the first.

After James split two free throws to put UH ahead 47 to 29, Houston's offense stalled while Rice began showing signs of confidence and life.

Owls senior guard Kadie Riverin began a 9-0 Rice run with a lay-up.

"We knew we had to pick it up in the second half after the way we played in the first half," Riverin said. "We had a tough week of practice and wanted to show that we could pull through. We know we have a short bench. We have to keep up the intensity and keep moving forward."

Houston answered with a 6-0 run with two points each from freshman Courtney Taylor and seniors Ryan Meyers and Tye Jackson.

But, Rice refused to roll over and quit.

Trailing UH 53 to 38, Rice scored six straight points in a two-minute span. Then, after Courtney Taylor drained a jump shot to put UH ahead 55 to 44, Kadie Riverin converted a three-point and Tara Watts followed with a lay-up to trim Houston's lead to 55 to 49 with 4:41 remaining in the game.

Houston's Whitney James slowed down the run by rattling in a three-point shot from the top of the key to give UH a 58 to 49 lead.

"The shot clock was going down; and, we had worked the offense through;" described James. "It was just an open shot. I didn't think about it really. I had my feet set and shot it."

The Owls mounted another comeback and pulled with five points (60 to 55) with 1:31 remaining. Houston's Tye Jackson scored a driving lay-up; but, Rice's Riverin answered with a jumper to make the score 62 to 57 UH with 1:03 remaining in the game.

Houston's Twiggy McIntyre drained two free throws; however, after an inadvertent foul by Houston, Rice's Tiffany Loggins split two foul shots to trim Houston's lead to 64 to 58 with 41 seconds left in the game.

Jackson swished two more free throws for Houston; Loggins swished a three-point shot to pull the Owls within five points (66 to 61) with 24 seconds to go in the game.

Next, Houston broke Rice's full-court press defense; and Ryan Meyers scored a lay-up with 14 seconds remaining.

Rice's Tara Watts capped of the Owls' scoring by nailing a three-pointer with 7 seconds on the clock.

Tye Jackson drained two more foul shots for the Lady Cougars final two points and to end the scoring 70 to 64.

Jackson led Houston with 15 points and eight assists. Whitney James scored a season-high 14 points. Courtney Taylor scored 14 and pulled down a team-high seven rebounds. Twiggy McIntyre, Houston's leading scorer for the season, added 10 points and five steals.

Rice was led by 17 points each from Kadie Riverin and Tiffany Loggins. Tara Watts added 14. Rice outrebounded Houston 44 to 31.

The Owls shot 36.1% from the field for the game; but, 43.3% (13 for 30) in the second half. UH shot 45.6% (26 for 57) from the field.

"I felt like our kids played consistent basketball for 40 minutes," said Danny Hughes. "I knew Rice was going to make some runs at us; and, we answered every run that they had."

"We kept our energy level up and I was proud of the way we hung in there in the second half," Owls head coach Greg Willilams said. "Tiffany didn't hang her head after not being in the starting lineup. It's something that we can build on. We're hoping to get Valeriya (Berezhynska) back this week and that will certainly help things. "


Owls' Notes:
For the first time this season, Tiffany Loggins did not start a game. However, Loggins' 17 points scored in today's game were the most points she scored in a game since the first game of the regular season (22 points versus Navy).

Owls backup point guard, Shyrelle Horne, will miss the rest of the season due to an injured right shoulder. The pain proved too much for Shyrelle; so, instead of waiting to have the surgery in the off-season, she'll have season-ending shoulder surgery.

Owls junior Maudess Fulton injured her left hamstring -- apparently, in pre-game warm-ups. Fulton was only able to play three minutes in today's game.
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CBA is indeed done

Latest UPDATE, Januar 28, 3:16pm (CST):
"WNBA and Players Association Sign Six-Year Labor Agreement"

UPDATE, January 28, 8:15am: A few more details from USA Today's Oscar Dixon:
"Players union and league agree on new CBA"


As reported by Jayda Evans of The Seattle Times, the WNBA and the WNBPA (players' association) has reached a new collective bargaining agreement. An official announcement should be made very soon.

Details on the major points of the new CBA haven't been released; but, I was told by one source the WNBA teams may still core two players for the 2008 season; however, the number will decrease to one player cored per team starting in 2009.

A core player is a player a team designates as untouchable.

The same source told me the date of the expansion draft for the Atlanta Dream, the WNBA's newest franchise, would be February 8; however, Jayda's article states it will not take place until mid-February.

The main point is a new collective bargaining agreement has been reached; so, fans of the W can breathe a huge sigh of relief and start firming up their plans for a 2008 season (and beyond).
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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Lack of Confidence Hurting Owls

The Rice Owls (8-11, 1-4) are enduring a very tough stretch right now. The team has won just once in their last six games. Playing games without their best player, Valeriya Berezhynska (out with an injured left ankle), has obviously had a negative impact on the team; however, Val's injury combined with poor shooting has led to another problem -- no confidence.

Second halves have been abysmal for the Owls. Allowing runs of 29-0 and 25-4 simply should not be happening.

Have you ever seen a team go up by 17 points and lose that big lead in the same half?

You would have if you attended the January 13th game between the Owls and the Houston Lady Cougars. Rice led UH by 17 points in the first half before Houston tied the score by halftime.

Amazing!

Sunday's "home" loss to UCF (January 20th) may have been an even bigger step back for the team.

Owls head coach Greg Williams said, "Unfortunately, it was very similar to our other two (conference) home games against UTEP and Tulane. We're down one at halftime; come out and take a one point lead; and then the shots stop falling; and, they go on a 25 to 4 run. The shots just stopped falling. Time after time we're not scoring and it seems to effect us on the other end.

"We weren't being aggressive. In the second half, we didn't defend like we did in the first half. I was a very disappointing loss. It felt like we took a huge step backwards. I thought we made progress in the Houston game and the Southern Miss game. We talked about that at halftime; then we played very poorly in the second half."

One of the major disappointments has been the subpar play of the Owls' upperclassmen. Redshirt junior wing Maudess Fulton has struggled with her shot all season. Senior post Tiffany Loggins has battled a season-long slump. Senior Kadie Riverin has been inconsistent with her play.

"Kadie came off her best game of the year against Southern Miss with 22 (points); but, she struggled Sunday (versus UCF). No question Tiffany is struggling shooting the basketball. She's shooting under 30 percent on the year. Maudess is struggling shooting the basketball. She got into early trouble Sunday so that took her out of any rhythm that she could get in the game. So, the players that have experience we need to start playing like the experienced players they are and the way we know they're capable of playing.

"It's frustrating for them, too. They're mired in a slump; and, we can't seem to figure out how to get them out of it."

Rice hosts UH this Saturday, January 26, at 2pm. The game will be held at Sharp Gym on the campus of Houston Baptist University.

Berezhynska will not play in the game; and, she may be at least one more week away from playing.

"Won't play this week; and, probably questionable when we go on the road next week. It's unfortunate. This is the third time she's sprained that ankle; and, it's just beat up. The ligaments are stretched; and, we just can't seem to get it strong enough for Dawn (team trainer) to put Val back on the court. This injury has lasted a lot longer than any of us thought it would take."

Saturday's game is very important for Rice because they are currently tied with four other teams in C-USA with 1-4 records.

"We've got five teams that 1 and 4; so, that gap is really getting wide between the top five in the league and the bottome five. One of those teams is going to finish last. One of those teams is going to finish above those other four teams; and, hopefully it's going to be us. We've got a lot of work to do in order to be ready to play."
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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Despite Four Straight Wins UH still Average

The Houston Lady Cougars are currently riding a four game winning streak and are tied for second place in Conference USA with a 4 and 1 record. The win streak has improved Houston's overall record to above .500 (10-9) for the first time since winning their season opener this season.

However, the Lady Cougars have yet to play 40 minutes of good basketball in one game this season; and, because of that flaw Houston's Twiggy McIntyre, Tye Jackson and interim head coach all agree the team is playing average right now.

"Average. We're playing average right now," said McIntyre. "Because we're capable of playing better than we've shown lately; but, thank goodness we've been able to come up with wins. We can't keep having slow starts in the first half. As we get further into conference; and, hopefully in the NCAA Tournament, teams are going to make us pay for doing things like that. So, we're playing very average right now. We haven't quite yet put together 40 minutes of basketball."

"I give us a C plus," added Tye Jackson. "Because, when we start and because the games are so close, we have the players that we could dominate if we just put our minds to it to work hard the whole 40 minutes; but, since we have that part where we get a little lax and struggle, we have to learn and grow as a team. We just need to learn to keep pushing whether to start a game or increase a lead."

"I still think we're so inconsistent with our play," said Coach Hughes. "We still have room to grow. The one thing we're going to have to be able to do is put together a better offensive effort for 40 minutes."

Houston's next game is this Saturday, January 26, versus Rice at Sharp Gym on Houston Baptist University's campus. Tip is set for 2pm.

Saturday's game against the Owls begins a three game road trip and a stretch of seven out of nine games on the road for Houston.

UH will definitely need to play much better than 'average' in order be successful during this upcoming stretch of games.
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Monday, January 21, 2008

BU's Tisdale and ISU's Bolte Earn Big 12 Honors

Angela Tisdale (Baylor) was named Big 12 Women's Basketball Player of the Week while Kelsey Bolte (Iowa State) was chosen Rookie of the Week by a media voting panel for games of Jan 14-20.

Tisdale was honored for the first time in her career while Bolte was recognized for the second consecutive week.

Tisdale averaged 21 points and five rebounds last week in Baylor's victories over Kansas and 11th-ranked Oklahoma.

Bolte averaged 20 points and 7.5 rebounds per game in contests against Texas and Nebraska last week.
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UH's Twiggy Earns C-USA Honor

For the second time in three weeks, Houston's Twiggy McIntyre has been named Conference USA's Basketball Player of the Week after she guided the Cougars to a pair of league wins. The 5-5 guard matched a C-USA weekly best with 23.0 points per game. She also knocked down five treys and hit all eight attempted foul shots for the week.

2007 - 2008 C-USA Basketball Players of the Week

Jan. 21 -- Twiggy McIntyre, Houston.
Jan. 14 -- Diamond Rogers, UAB, and Jareica Hughes, UTEP.
Jan. 7 --- Twiggy McIntyre, Houston.
Dec. 30 -- Kizzy Hart, Marshall.
Dec. 24 -- Crystal McFadden, UAB.
Dec. 17 -- Casey Baker, Marshall.
Dec. 10 -- LaToya Terry, East Carolina & Pauline Love, Southern Miss.
Dec. 3 --- Delisha Wills, SMU.
Nov. 26 -- Janielle Dodds, SMU.
Nov. 20 -- Maudess Fulton, Rice & Crystal McFadden, UAB.
Nov. 12 -- Valeriya Berezhynska, Rice.
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Sunday, January 20, 2008

UH wins Fourth Straight

The Houston Lady Cougars, if they are nothing else this season, are consistent when it comes to one thing thus far: starting off slowly.

Sunday afternoon versus Southern Miss was another example of a slow start; but, Houston (10-9, 4-1) came from behind in the second half (again) and defeated Southern Miss (10-8, 1-4) 71 to 61 before 627 fans gathered at Hofheinz Pavilion.

The Lady Cougars shot 17.1% -- yes, that's right, 17.1% -- from the field in the first half. They attempted 41 shots and made just seven. However, at 35.3%, Southern Miss didn't shoot much better; so, the Lady Cougars trailed by just eight points (29 to 21) at halftime.

"I think it just takes us a while to get going," said Houston forward Courtney Taylor after the game. "But, we have to correct it. If we (ever) put 40 minutes together (of good basketball), then nobody could hang with us in this league."

Taylor finished the game with her fifth double-double (14 points and 12 rebounds) -- in just 28 minutes.

Houston's Twiffy McIntyre led all scorers with 24 points. McIntyre scored 17 points in the second half.

"I really think the reason Houston was able to take control because Twiggy took the game over," said Lady Eagles head coach Joye Lee-McNelis.

McIntyre shot 7 for 14 from the field (2 for 7 on threes) and a perfect 8 for 8 from the charity stripe. She added four rebounds; three assists; and three steals.

"The effort was there in the first half; but, the shots just didn't fall for us," McIntyre said after the game. "I guess the home court advantage started working for us in the second half."

Southern Miss scored the first two points of the second half to lead 31 to 21; however, Houston scored six points in the paint (two from Taylor; two from McIntyre; and two from Cobilyn Hill) to set the tone in the second half. Then, Houston's Tye Jackson scored a put back lay-up and a three-point shot to pull Houston within three points (35 to 32) with 14:12 left in the second half.

Jackson's lay-up was her first made field goal in 23 shot attempts.

"I've been in a shooting slump," said Jackson. "Right now, my scoring or anything is not as it used to be; but, I don't mind. But, it is frustrating that I can't make a shot when I need to make a shot because my teammates told me when I get frustrated my teammates get down. I'm trying to keep a level head; keep my composure; keep them up; and do whatever they need me to do."

Jackson dished out four assists in the second half which helped spark Houston's second half comeback.

Jackson assisted on a lay-up to teammate Ryan Meyers to bring Houston within one point (41 to 40) with 10:35 on the clock.

Then, after a three-point basket by teammate Alona Obaze (assist from Cobilyn Hill), Jackson dropped two nice dimes for lay-ups by Meyers and McIntyre to help Houston increase the lead to six (47 to 41) with 7:06 remaining.

Southern Miss stayed close thanks to the efforts of Pauline Love and Liz Biland. Each finished the game with a double. Love scored 19 points and pulled down a game-high 16 rebounds while Biland scored 12 and grabbed 10 boards.

After Love made two free throws to trim Houston's lead to just two points (49 to 47), McIntyre scored five points and assisted on another two points during a 7-0 Houston to put Houston ahead 56 to 47 with 3:36 left in the game.

The two teams combined for 22 free throw attempts during the final three and a half minutes; but, Houston did what they needed to do from the foul line to win the game by ten points.

"I still think we're real inconsistent with our play," said interim head coach Danny Hughes. "We still have room to grow. The one thing we're going to have to do is put together a better offensive performance for 40 minutes. I thought our execution in the first half was good; but, shots didn't fall for us. I wasn't disappointed with that. We've got to correct that in order to be where we need to be in our league. If we can get the corrected, I think we can play with anybody in our league."
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OSU's Riley Beats Ags with 3

For much of the second half Saturday afternoon Andrea Riley struggled versus Texas A&M's stingy defense. However, Riley, sophomore star guard for Oklahoma State, scored seven of the Cowgirl's last 12 points to helped the Cowgirls stun the Aggies 61 to 58 before 4,265 fans gathered at Reed Arena on Texas A&M's campus.

With 6.6 seconds left in the ball game, Riley swished a long three-point shot to break a 58-58 tie and give the Cowgirls the lead for good.

Cowgirls head coach Kurt Budtke said, "We didn’t want to give them much time in the end. We had no problem going into overtime. Andrea has been making those kinds of shots all season long. She’s a tremendous three-point shooter this year. It has to do with her own confidence and her confidence in her teammates."

Riley proved too much for the Aggies in the first half as she scored 18 points (6 for 11 from the field, 4 for 7 on threes). Her quickness allowed her to attack the basket at will or step behind a pick and drain her three-point shots.

The Aggies dominated much of the second half with their most efficient and effective showing on offense all season. Takia Starks scored nine of her team-high 16 points on 4 for 8 shooting while Patrice Reado added eight points (4 for 7). The Aggies were able to score in the post and on the perimeter and led the Cowgirls 58 to 49 with 6:26 remaining in the game.

The Aggies did not score a single point the rest of the game.

"We just didn’t score the last six minutes of the game," said Aggies head coach Gary Blair after the game. " We were getting good shots. We just didn't knock them down."

"Folks we're hurting right now. That's all there is to it. That's the third game (this season) that a three-pointer has beaten us."

With the loss Texas A&M's falls to 1-3 in the Big 12 (13-5 overall).

Oklahoma State's record improves to 4-0 in the Big 12 and 16-1 overall.

"Obviously, we're very excited (to be 4-0) right now," said Coach Budtke. "Two of the wins are over the two teams that won the Big 12 last year. We feel like we can play with them; but, we know we have a long way to go. But, we have taken care of who is on our schedule. We should be confident. We should be excited; but, we also know we have a lot of tough games ahead of us."

One interesting note: the Cowgirls finished the game with just two assists on their 20 made field goals.

Riley finished the game with 29 points; seven rebounds; 0 assists; and seven turnovers.

As one of my media colleagues pointed out after the game, 'Oklahoma State is playing like Texas A&M did last year.'
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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Bush 41 at Reed Arena

Former President George Bush (or as I 've heard described twice today "Bush 41") is in attendance here at Reed Arena today to watch a key match up in the Big 12:

Oklahoma State versus Texas A&M.

The Cowgirls (15-1, 3-0) are coming off a 76 to 41 win Wednesday night over Missouri while the Aggies (13-4, 1-2) defeated Colorado 72 to 68 in Boulder on Wednesday.

Tip-off is set for 1pm (CST). The game will air on FSN.


Houston area teams in action this Weekend


Prairie View (8-7, 3-0) play Jackson State (6-8, 4-0) in Jackson, MS, today at 5:30pm.

Texas Southern (3-10, 1-2) play Grambling State (1-13, 0-4) in Grambling, LA, today at 5:30pm.

Rice (8-10, 1-3) hosts UCF (7-10, 0-4) tomorrow, January 20, at 2 pm. Since Autry Court is being renovated this season, the game will be held at Sharp Gym on the campus of Houston Baptist University.

Houston (9-9, 3-1) hosts Southern Miss (10-7, 1-3) Sunday afternoon, Jan. 20, at Hofheinz Pavilion. Tip-off is set for 2pm.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Reliant Arena Taking Shape

By now, Comets' fans know the Comets will play their home games at Reliant Arena. In fact, the team will host a "Meet your Seat" tomorrow, January 17, from 8am to 8pm, for season-ticket holders.

Well, tonight, I was at Reliant Arena to see the Memphis Tigers (#2 in the nation) play the Rice Owls in a men's college basketball game.

Actually, I was there to check out the progress being made toward configuring the Arena for the Comets.

In addition to the permanent seats, approximately 1,000 seats (folded chairs, green-colored cushions) have been set up behind the baskets: 700 behind one goal and 300 behind the other goal. The seats are the same color as the seats the last year (or two) at Compaq Center (re: The Summitt).

In addition, I was told the Comets' basketball court which was used at Toyota Center will be transferred to the arena; and, a few more rows, for courtside seating, will be added behind the scorers' table and opposite the scorers' table.

I'm still uncertain of the scoreboard situation because the current scoreboards at the Arena aren't very detailed (or very big) at all.


Work still needs to be done at the Arena; but, definite progress has been made.
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Sunday, January 13, 2008

UH 71, Owls 66

The Rice Owls did something Sunday afternoon they hadn't done during their four game losing streak: they made shots.

The Houston Lady Cougars did something they've done most of the 2007 - 2008 season: they fell behind early.

In the end, the Lady Coogs topped the Owls 71 to 66 before a crowd of 614 fans at Hofheinz Pavilion. The win improves Houston's record to 8 - 9 overall and 2 and 1 in Conference USA while the Owls record falls to 7 and 10 and 0 and 3 in conference play.

After a made lay-up by freshman guard Brittney Hudson, Rice led Houston 31 to 14 with 7:42 remaining in the first half. The Owls' offense was efficient and effective. Rice made 13 out of 22 from the field to lead by 17 points. However, Rice's recent woes during their losing streak began to surface. Rice finished the first half making only 2 of 12 from the field while Houston began rebounding; attacking the basket; and scoring in the paint.

Houston finished the first half with a 22 to 5 run to tie the game at 36 at halftime.

"We did our usual -- come out lackadaisical," said Houston senior guard Twiggy McIntyre after the game. "We just didn't have it. Thank goodness we were able to overcome it in the first half instead of having to come back in the second half like we have done recently. We have to find a way to bring the intensity we play with in the second half to the first half and play a complete 40 minutes instead of 20 or 25 minutes."

The Owls showed new resolve and composure by scoring the first seven points in the second half -- four from freshman post Morgan Mayse and a three-point jumper by sophomore Tara Watts.

"We came out and scored the first seven points of the second half and led pretty much the entire second half until the down the stretch," said Owls head coach Greg Williams.

Houston quickly answered with a made jump shot by senior Tye Jackson and a three by McIntyre to pull within two points 43 to 41 with 16:46 remaining in the game.

The Owls scored six straight points to lead by eight before Houston's freshman post Cobilyn Hill scored four consecutive points in the paint followed by two free throws by McIntyre to once again pull the Lady Cougars within two (49 to 47).

Once again, the Owls responded and stretched the lead to eight (56 to 48) with 11:02 on the clock.

But, the Lady Cougars refused to go away. Three UH freshman led another charge. Point guard Jasmine Johnson scored a tough lay-up in the paint; forward Courtney Taylor converted a three point play; and Hill made two free throws to trim Rice's lead to one (56 to 55).

Lately, Hill is playing more relaxed.

"It's a big adjustment from high school; but, I just go out there and try to make things happen," said Hill after the game. "(Today) I went out there with the same intensity I give it every game; pray about it; and then just go out and give it all."

Hudson drained a three-point shot to put the Owls up 59 to 55.

The game would remain within four points until the final 14 seconds.

The Owls led 62 to 59 with 5:15 remaining before McIntyre drained a short jumper in the paint. Houston took its first lead (63 to 62) of the second half after a driving lay-up by senior forward Ryan Meyers.

Watts gave the Owls lead with a jump shot.

Then, fireworks!

Following a turnover by McIntyre, Rice was on the fast break. Watts passed the ball the Hudson; Hudson attacked the basket and was called for an offensive foul. Owls coach Greg Williams disagreed with the call -- to say the least. Coach Williams voiced his displeasure and was called for a technical foul with 70 seconds left in the game and his team clinging to a 64 to 63 lead.

McIntyre made both technical free throws to give the Lady Coogs a one point lead. Then, fifteen seconds later, Tye Jackson passed to a wide open Whitney James and James converted the lay-up to give UH a 67 to 64 lead with 55 seconds remaining.

Jackson finished the game a woeful 2 for 12 from the field; but, her pass to James to was a critical play. She finished with six points; four rebounds; and four assists.

"She did struggle at times today," said UH interim head coach Danny Hughes. "But, she did make a great play. That's what kids have to do -- when things don't go well, you just have to make plays for your team and I thought she did that late."

Morgan Mayse and Tara Watts each scored 14 points to lead four Owls in double figures. Brittney Hudson scored 12 points off the Owls' bench. Kadie Riverin scored 10 points; dished out five assists; and pulled down four rebounds.

McIntyre led Houston with 24 points (5 for 10 from the field and 12 for 13 from the foul line). Hill scored 16 points (5 for 11 and 6 for 7 from the free throw line). Courtney Taylor scored six points and grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds in only 23 minutes -- on a banged up right knee. Before the game, Taylor felt a pain in her knee; but, she gutted it out and played as long as she could. Taylor finished the game with ice wrapped around the knee.

"We played more of a 40 minute game," said Coach Williams. "A couple of our freshmen, Brittney Hudson and Morgan Mayse, both played well in consecutive conference games. That's encouraging. Tara snapped out of her shooting slump. Kadie was aggressive. Shyrelle Horne had great minutes. She had solid, solid minutes for us; and, she's playing hurt. She hasn't been able to practice. She can hardly lift her (right) arm. She had five assists in 15 minutes. Emery Carter looked a little more solid today. We played a tough team on the road and had a chance to win the basketball game. I'm very encouraged by that; and our best player -- Valeriya Berezhynska -- is sitting in street clothes (with a badly sprained ankle)."

Both teams head to the road for their next ball game. Rice travels to Hattiesburg, MS, to face Southern Miss Thursday evening while Houston faces UCF in Orlando, FL, on Thursday.
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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Owls Prep for UH

Sunday, January 13, the Rice Owls head "crosstown" to play the Houston Lady Cougars at Hofheinz Pavilion. Tip is set for 2pm.

The Owls have lost four straight games; and, the team's confidence is clearly lacking.

"We're just having a lack of energy. I guess," said senior guard Kadie Riverin. "Starting from practice -- we're inconsistent. Some days we're really intense and ready to go and have a great practice. Then, the following day, we're just down and have no energy. The same things seem to happen during the games.

"We seem to have all right first halves then the second half we're a whole different team. I think that's the big thing we're struggling with. It's a snowball effect. One person gets down then the whole team seems to follow; and, we can't seem to pick each other back up. But, we're working on it. Hopefully, we'll get better."

Rice (7-9) has started 0 and 2 in Conference USA; but, Riverin still believes the conference season is still young.

"It's a long season. We still have 14 games left. It's just the beginning of conference."

Riverin is looking forward to playing the Lady Cougars on Sunday.

"It's pretty exciting. It's always a fun game. It's a pretty pumped up, hyped game. We're excited to play them."

A major reason for the Owls' struggles during this losing skein is poor shooting.

"We haven't been shooting the ball well since Christmas," said Greg Williams, Owls head coach. "We're struggling to score points. We've scored 46, 51, 51, and 54 (the last four games). We're the lowest scoring team in the league. We have not been running the ball like I would like."

"I know our shooting percentage has been very poor since Christmas break. We spend a lot of time in practice on shooting. We think we have better shooters than what they're shooting the ball right now. But, when shooters start missing, they start thinking about it, they start losing confidence and get hesitant. Those are the things we're trying to eliminate right now. We're telling them we have confidence in them."

A second reason for the Owls' ineffectiveness is the ankle injury to senior post Valeriya Berezhynska.

"I thought she'd play this week; but, her ankle is just not responding. Her problem is this is the third time she's sprained her ankle in about six weeks; and, it's a very bad sprain. She missed two weeks of practice before the season. She missed our first game. We were lucky after the TCU game -- when she sprained it again -- that we had finals. She missed a week then. The ankle is very tender. The swelling has not gone down in it. There has been improvement this week; but, I don't think she'll play next week at all. It's a repeat injury; so, it's going to take longer for her to come back.

Despite the losses and the injuries, Coach Williams is looking forward to facing UH on Sunday.

"They've had a very tough schedule. They've been a team that on any given night they can play with anybody in the country. They had a tremendous win -- which I'm sure was a tremendous confidence boost for them -- over Tulane. They came from eight down and beat Tulane by 10. They're coming off a nice win and we're struggling right now.

"Twiggy (McIntyre) has been a big impact for them -- allowing Tye Jackson to slide over and score and assist. Cobilyn Hill gives them nice size inside. Courtney Taylor is really coming on; so, they're two freshmen posts are really playing well right now. Ryan Meyers is playing well for them off the bench. So, they're a deeper team. I'm sure they're excited to play us."

Coach Williams cites a few keys for the Owls in the match up.

"We've got to shoot the ball better. No question. Our shooting has carried, particularly our second halves have just been abysmal our last three games. We've just been getting blown out in the second half after competing (in the first half). We have to figure out how to play for 40 minutes. We've got to handle their pressure. We've had problems in the past against their press. All those things factored in are things we're going to have to do to have a chance to get a win over there Sunday."

2pm tip-off. Tickets are still available.
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Friday, January 11, 2008

Tampa and CBA

Yesterday was a good day.

I attended the Houston Lady Cougars' practice; and, while I was on campus, I ran into head coach Joe Curl. Coach Curl was in his office catching up on old e-mails. (For those who don't know, a few months ago, Coach Curl suffered a heart attack and underwent double bypass surgery.) He's feeling much better. His doctors have cleared him to drive; so, he's slowly getting back into a routine.

Next, while I was at UH, I called a friend / source and asked for any news on the negotiations between the WNBA and the players' union.

Without going into specifics (sworn to secrecy), the two sides are making progress (thanks to concessions on both sides). An agreement could be forthcoming in a few weeks. Clearly, until an agreement is announced, it's possible things could go wrong; however, the fact progress has been made is much better news than what I was told a while ago.

Lastly, my day was capped off with this nugget of good news: I've been approved to cover the 2008 Women's Final Four in Tampa, FL. Though I've been approved the last six or seven years, it's always an honor to be approved. I never take it for granted.
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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Aggies Lose to K-State

Wednesday night at Reed Arena, the Kansas State Wildcats defeated the Texas A&M Aggies 67 to 54 before a crowd of 3,196 fans.

The Wildcats' win ended A&M’s school-best 26 consecutive home court winning streak which previously led the nation. It was the first loss at home for the Aggies since falling to ninth-ranked Oklahoma (73-54) on Feb. 18, 2006.

"That’s the same type of offensive Iowa State ran to beat us last year," said Aggies head coach Gary Blair after the game. "We were prepared to play this game as any this year. Give credit to Kansas State. They stayed within their game plan, even though we made those comebacks to get even or ahead. The game was won at the point guard position with (Shalee) Lehning. She didn’t panic and kept her team in the ballgame."

K-State's offense in the first half was a model of extreme efficiency. The Wildcats (9-5, 1-0) shot 15 for 31 (48.4%) in the half. Fourteen of those 15 made shots came from assists. Wildcats junior guard Shalee Lehning handed out eight assists in the opening 20 minutes. K-State took advantage of the Aggies' pressure defense on the wings and scored lay-up after lay-up off backdoor cuts throughout the first half.

"Most of the North teams like to play the pretty ball and that’s what K-State plays," said Aggies senior point A'Quonesia Franklin after the game. "We had so much pressure on the perimeter. The only way their wings were able to score was on backdoor cuts."

With 5:16 left in the first half, the Aggies (12-3, 0-1) trailed 29 to 17 before junior guard Takia Starks sparked a 12 - 0 run with eight consecutive points combined with four points from teammate Morenike Atunrase. Atunrase tied the game at 29 with 2:04 remaining in the half on a driving lay-up.

The Wildcats calmly answered the run with a three-point shot by sophomore Ashley Sweat (assist from Lehning). Next, Lehning dished to Sweat for a lay-up and an "and one". Finally, K-State closed out the first half with a three-point bucket by freshman Shalin Spani (assist from Lehning).

The Wildcats led 38 to 29 at the half.

The Aggies began the second half with pressure defense and forced eight K-State turnovers. Those turnovers helped lead to a 12 to 0 A&M which put the Aggies ahead 41 to 39 with 15:48 left in the ball game.

The game went back and forth over the next few minutes; however, with the game tied at 45, Wildcats' senior Kimberly Dietz converted two free throws which began a 15 to 3 Wildcats' run which lasted six minutes and 34 seconds.

"I was so proud of the answer we brought to the big burst A&M brought to the floor in the second half," said Deb Patterson, Wildcats head coach. "We just continued to go about our business. We didn’t overreact in any fashion."

Dietz finished the game with 20 points and six assists.

Lehning scored only four points (2 for 8 from the field); but, she grabbed 10 rebounds; dished out eight assists; and picked up three steals.

Ashley Sweat added 14 points on 5 for 8 field goal shooting.

Kansas State's defense limited the Aggies to 30.6% (19 for 62) field goal shooting. However, the Wildcats converted 23 of their 45 shots for 51.1% for the ball game.

"I thought defensively, we did a really good job of limiting their ability to get easy touches in the paint for any sustained point in time," said Coach Patterson after the game.

"They were doing a good job on the defensive end," said coach Gary Blair. We ran about everything we had. The game is about execution and hustle. They beat us on all of them and they were quicker than us. The key to the second half was when we fought to get back in the ballgame. They didn’t get rattled and came right back and did what they had to do. They settled down like a good basketball team and ran their stuff."

Next up for the Aggies is a road trip to Waco to face the Baylor Lady Bears on Saturday, January 12. Tip-off is set for 12:30pm.

"I think we've dug ourselves a hole because four of our next five are on the road. We're about to play a lot of Top 25 teams -- even before we get to Oklahoma (Feb. 12); Baylor back at home (March 1); and Texas (Feb. 9 and Feb. 24). You cannot overlook anyone in this league."
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Monday, January 07, 2008

UH's McIntyre Earns Honor

Houston's Twiggy McIntyre was named the Conference USA Women's Basketball Player of the Week, the league office announced Monday.

McIntyre averaged a team-best 20.7 points per game and went 18-for-18 from the charity stripe as the Cougars (7-9, 1-1 C-USA) wrapped up a stretch of three games in five days.

She ended the week shooting .531 (17-of-32) from the field, and hit 10-of-22 attempted 3-pointers (.455). McIntyre also had 13 rebounds, 11 assists and three steals, while playing 36.3 minutes per game.

This is McIntyre's first C-USA Player of the Week honor.
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Bears' Allison and Buffs' Spears Earn Honors

Rachel Allison (Baylor) was named Phillips 66 Big 12 Women's Basketball Player of the Week while Brittany Spears (Colorado) was chosen Rookie of the Week by a media voting panel for games of Jan 2-6. Both received the award for the first time.


2007 - 2008 Big 12 Player of the Week
Jan. 7 -- Rachel Allison, Baylor.
Jan. 2 -- Carla Cortijo, Texas.
Dec. 28 -- Danielle Wilson, Baylor.
Dec. 17 -- Amanda Thompson, Oklahoma.
Dec. 10 -- Bianca Smith, Colorado.
Dec. 3 --- Courtney Paris, Oklahoma.
Nov. 26 -- Andrea Riley, Oklahoma State.
Nov. 19 -- Heather Ezell, Iowa State.
Nov. 12 -- Danielle Page, Nebraska.


2007 - 2008 Big 12 Rookie of the Week
Jan. 7 -- Brittany Spears, Colorado.
Jan. 2 -- Dominic Seals, Texas Tech.
Dec. 28 -- Dominic Seals, Texas Tech.

Dec. 17 -- Kaitlyn Burke, Nebraska.
Dec. 10 -- Danielle Robinson, Oklahoma.
Dec. 3 --- Stanecia Graham, Texas Tech.
Nov. 26 -- Danielle Robinson, Oklahoma.
Nov. 19 -- Danielle Robinson, Oklahoma and Kathleen Nash, Texas.
Nov. 12 -- Nicollette Smith, Kansas.
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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Lady Coogs Top Tulane

Sunday afternoon the Houston Lady Cougars trailed Tulane 33 to 25 at halftime. Instead of playing an awful second half (like they did Friday night versus UTEP), Houston began the second half with a 21 to 4 run and closed out the game with a solid 74 to 64 victory in front of 506 fans at Hofheinz Pavilion.

Houston's Twiggy McIntyre led all scorer's with 25 points (22 in the second half). The Lady Cougars shot 10 for 26 (38.5%) from the field in the first half and 22 for 44 (50.0%) in the second half.

"Shots started falling for us in the second half," McIntyre said. "We started taking better shots. We let Tye Jackson create for herself and others which was tremendous for us."

Tye Jackson scored 18 points and passed out a game-high 10 assists for her first double-double of the season and the 10th of her career.

"The second half, we ran out sets right," Jackson said after the game. "I really like to get to the ball to my teammates more than I like being a scorer; so, when I come off screens and I get trapped, I know somebody's open. So, that's when I try to distribute the ball to my teammates."

Two of Houston's freshmen, Cobilyn Hill and Courtney Taylor, played a key role in the win. Hill made all of her shots, 5 for 5 from the field and 2 for 2 from the foul line, to finish wit 12 points. She added five boards. Taylor scored 10 points (5 for 7) and pulled down a game-high seven rebounds.

"They're both great young players," said interim-head coach Danny Hughes after the game. "And, you have to understand their growing pains."

"Coach gave us a nice talking to at halftime," said Cobilyn Hill. "And, we just came out with more intensity."

"Courtney Taylor is a beast!" exclaimed Tye Jackson. "She has an all around game. I'm happy she's on our team."

The Green Wave missed seven straight shots to start to second half.

"I thought they came out aggressive in the second half," said Tulane head coach Lisa Stockton. "They made some shots and we missed lay-ups. We missed a couple lay-ups that were really gimmes. That hurt us. We had a couple of turnovers. I thought we had some high percentage shots that we missed."

Tulane (11-4, 1-1) pulled within three points (46 to 43); however Jackson made 3 of 4 free throws and assisted on a made three-point shot by Twiggy McIntyre to put Houston up by nine points (52 to 43) with 7:40 left in the second half.

Three minutes later, Jackson, while standing in front her team's bench, banked in a three-point shot to give UH a 61 to 50 lead.

With 1:30 left in the game, Ashley Langford swished a three-point shot to help Tulane trim Houston's lead to five points (67 to 62). However, Jackson and McIntyre combined to shoot 7 for 8 from the foul line to keep the Green Wave at bay for the final score of Houston 74, Tualne 64.

"In the second half, we knew had to put them away because we didn't want to start 0 and 2," said Courtney Taylor.

Houston improves to 1 - 1 in Conference USA and 7 - 9 overall.

"Once we got a good run on them," Coach Danny Hughes said. "I think our confidence built a little bit. I think the big effort today was defensively. I thought we did a great job."

Houston's next game is next Sunday, January 13, versus cross-town rival Rice. Tip is set for 2pm.
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Hilton Koch on KCOH Sports Rap

About a month ago, I asked Hilton Hilton Koch, owner of the Houston Comets, to appear on KCOH 1430 AM. Well, Hilton has agreed to appear on the show.

Hilton will appear on KCOH 1430 AM' Sports Rap this Tuesday, January 8, during the 5 o'clock hour (5pm) with host Mr. Ralph Cooper.

In addition to catching the show on the radio, the show can also be heard via the Internet (www.kcohradio.com). Click on the "Listen Live" button.

A few seasons ago Andrea Young, former Comets President, made weekly appearances on Sports Rap; so, perhaps, this Tuesday's appearance by Hilton may result in similar arrangements by the Comets (re: coaches; players; Hilton; etc.) this year.

I do not know if Hilton will take phone calls during the time he's on the show.
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Friday, January 04, 2008

UTEP Routs UH

The Texas-El Paso Miners made certain the Houston Lady Cougars would not enjoy a comeback win Friday night at Hofheinz Pavilion. UTEP blew open a one point halftime lead and rolled past Houston in the second half and won 79 to 61. With the win, the Miners' record improves to 10-2 and 1-0 in Conference USA while Houston's record falls to 6-9 and 0-1 in conference.

Natasha Lacy led four Miners in double-figures with 19 points. Lacy played a tremendous all around game as she added eight rebounds; nine assists; and fives steals in 37 minutes of action. Sophomore Jareica Hughes added 18 points; four assists and five steals. Senior Kasia Krezel scored 18 points; and senior Claudia Porras finished the game with 10 points and eight rebounds.

Houston trailed UTEP 31 to 30 at halftime.

"At halftime, it was a one point game," said Keitha Adams, Miners head coach. "It was a dogfight. The first half they (UH) dominated the boards. We stepped up our play in the second half. It's a very, very good win on their court."

"I thought our guard play stepped up. When our guards play focused, they can definitely do some things. I thought Tasha Lacy hit some big shots and had some great assists in the first half. I thought Kasia, Jareica and Tasha all three of them played pretty hard tonight and played well."

Houston's defense in the second half was non-existent. UTEP shot 58.1% (18 for 31) from the field in the second half as the Miners scored 48 points quite easily.

"We didn't work hard on defense," said Twiggy McIntyre, senior guard for the Lady Cougars. "It just wasn't there tonight. Credit UTEP. They came in and knocked down shots and executed their offense. They were ready."

Natasha Lacy transferred from Texas Christian after her junior season. After sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules, Lacy has made a big impact for the Miners in 2007 - 2008.

"She's a very talented person," said Jareica Hughes. "She means a lot to this team. She's a floor general. She's a very big part of this team."

Apparently, Lacy took to heart comments made which stated Houston had the best backcourt in Conference USA.

"We knew their guards were excellent," Lacy said. "But, we had a little extra motivation coming into this game. At Media Day (in October), they said they had the best guards in the conference; so, me, Jareica and Kasia took that literally and we tried to come out here tonight and show we're the better back court."

"At halftime, Coach Adams got into us real good. She told us about rebounding. She told us about finishing plays; and to run and be consistent and that's what we tried to do (in the second half)."

The Lady Cougars were led by McIntyre's 18 points. Freshman Courtney Taylor contributed 14 points and 10 rebounds. Cobilyn Hill added nine points and six boards while Ryan Meyers added eight points and seven rebounds. Tye Jackson struggled in the game finishing with 2 points (1 for 9 shooting); five assists; three rebounds; and six turnovers.
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Thursday, January 03, 2008

UH Caps Comeback w/ OT Win

If you were not one of the 516 fans at Hofheinz Pavilion Wednesday night, you missed a remarkable comeback by the Houston Lady Cougars in their 82 to 75 overtime win over the Lamar Lady Cardinals.

Houston (6-8) trailed Lamar (7-6) by as many as 26 points (48 to 22, 19:28 left in the second half) in the game; however, the Lady Cougars finally began making lay-ups (and baskets). Plus, Houston forced Lamar to turn over the ball. Houston shot 19 for 41 from the field in the second half and forced the Lady Cardinals into 15 turnovers in the second stanza.

Lamar started the game connecting on three three-point baskets and jumped to a 11 to 2 lead.

UH trailed Lamar 46 to 22 at halftime.

Afer the game, Houston's Twiggy McIntyre said head coach Danny Hughes, "Came in (to the locker room); face all red; I couldn't even understand a lot of what he was saying. He screamed at us. Then he left for a few minutes; and let us talk it (the first half) over amongst ourselves."

"We knew we were a better team than the one we presented in the first half."

Houston trimmed their deficit to 19 points (49 to 30) with 16:43 remaining in regulation. UH failed to pull closer than 16 points until senior forward Ryan Meyers scored a fast break lay-up to pull within 14 points (56 to 42) 11:27 remaining.

Lamar stayed on 56 points for more than six minutes; and McIntyre pulled the Lady Cougars within nine points (56 to 47) with 8:17 on the game clock. However, Lamar's Nikki Williams made a three-point shot and a tough jumper from the top of the key to keep UH at arm's length (trailing by 11, 61 to 50).

Over the next two minutes, Houston continued the comeback with eight consecutive points to pull within three (61 to 58). After a lay-up by Lamar's Britney Williams, Houston's Alona Obaza swished a three-point shot to make the score 63 to 61 Lamar.

Houston's Tye Jackson gave the Lady Cougars a one point lead (64 to 63) with a three-point basket; Lamar's Aida Bakhos tipped in a layup off her own miss to put Lamar up 65-64 with 2:23 left. UH failed to convert on its next possession and Bakhos was fouled the next time down the floor and converted both free throws to make the margin 3, 67-64, with 1:48 left.

Myers pulled the Cougars within one at 67-66 with 1:32 to go. Lamar's Brittany Williams split a pair of free throws with 44 seconds left and the Cougars trailed by two, 68-66.

On the ensuing possession, UH freshman Courtney Taylor leaped high and tipped in a rebound of a McIntyre missed three with 23 ticks left on the clock to knot things at 68-68.

Lamar's Nikki Williams missed a jumper the next time down the floor and fouled McIntyre who came up with the rebound, giving the senior guard two free throw shots with four seconds left. After a Lady Cardinals timeout, McIntyre stepped up and drained both free throws, giving Houston a 70-68 lead with four seconds left.

Houston's Obaze fouled Williams with 0.5 seconds on the clock while Williams was attempting a three-point shot. Williams clanged the first attempt; but, she made the next two tries to know the game at 70.

"I touched her. I was just trying to tip the ball. (When Williams went to the line,) I was thinking 'miss one of them, please.' "

Tye Jackson launched a shot from beyond half court to beat the buzzer; and, the shot bounced off the rim to force overtime.


"I didn't think we were going to lose," Jackson said after the game. "You have to think positive. The second half showed what kind of team have. We have heart."

Lamar's will seemed to be broken during the extra five minutes.

"We knew were going to overtime," proclaimed Ryan Meyers. "This was our game."


Meyers finished the game with 18 points and eight rebounds. McIntyre scored 19 points -- all in the second half and the overtime -- and dished seven assists. Jackson scored 21 points and added seven assists also.

"We put ourselves in a hole," said coach Danny Hughes. "But, I'm proud of the way our kids responded and fought back."


Note: UH's 26-point comeback win over Lamar on Jan. 2 was the second-largest deficit overcome for victory in NCAA history. UH trailed 48-22 with 19:28 left in the second half and won 82-75 in overtime. The largest was a 32-point comeback for Texas State over UTSA on Feb. 18,2006. Texas State trailed 40-8 with 2:18 left in the first half and won 73-71 in overtime.
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