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).

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Coogs Thump Knights

HOUSTON, TX (Hofheinz Pavilion) -- The Houston Cougars thumped the UCF Knights 80 to 65 in front of a truly sparse 465 fans inside Hofheinz Pavilion. Perhaps the UH administration; students; and alums stayed home to watch the game on FSN Houston. If they watched the game on television they saw UH improve to a perfect 9 and 0 at home and knock UCF out of a first place tie in the Conference USA standings.

Houston's Courtney Taylor was spectacular once again for the Coogs. Taylor scored a career-high 27 points (10 for 13 from the field, 6 for 8 on free throws); blocked four shots; pulled down seven rebounds; dished two assists; and picked up one steal to lead UH to the solid victory.

Houston (12-6 overall, 4-2 in C-USA) trailed UCF 12 to 9 at the 14:28 mark of the first half; but, a 29 to 8 scoring blitz by the Coogs put UH ahead 38 to 18 with 4:40 left in the half. Taylor's three-point basket capped off the run. Seven different Cougars scored during the run.

"I think we played a good game," Taylor said after the game. "We knew we had to come out and win this game since we lost on the road (to Southern Miss on January 22). I think we got the job done; and, we're still trying to go perfect at home. Everybody played their role. We did what we had to do."

The Coogs led UCF 45 to 28 at the half. Houston forced the Knights (6-13 overall, 4-2 in C-USA) into 16 first half turnovers and outscored the Knights 28 to 4 in points off turnovers in the opening 20 minutes.

"We played as well as we've played defensively that first half," said UH head coach Joe Curl. "We always talk about focus and tunnel vision for each four-minute segment and we were winning each of them by two or three points until we had a big spurt that put us up 17 at halftime. During the second half we knew they would come out and throw their best haymaker at us in the first four minutes. But, we won that first four minutes 8-2 and took a little more out of them. They started to play a little desperate, and we relaxed a little. We've got to play for 40 minutes and if we do, we're capable of winning Conference USA, but it's not going to be easy."

UCF turned up the defensive pressure early in the second half and Houston got sloppy with the basketball and committed eight turnovers in the first eight minutes of the second stanza. The Knights' Emma Cannon (8 points); Amber Kirkpatrick (15 points); and Angelica Mealing (8 points) combined to score 31  of UCF's 37 second half points; however, UCF never got closer than seven points (70 to 63) in the half.

Sophomore guard Brittney Scott added 16 points (5 for 10 from the field) and freshman guard Roxana Button chipped in 10 points off the bench. Freshman point guard Porsche Landry added nine points; four assists; and five steals. Sophomore forward Brittany Mason grabbed a team-high eight rebounds; blocked two shots; dished two assists; picked off one steal; and added five points.

Nine of Houston's 11 players scored at least two points in the ball game.

"I feel we played a lot better than we had the past couple of games," said sophomore forward Brittany Mason. "We got a couple of runs that first half and that helped us a lot. The second half they had a run; but, we came back and we were able to finish the game."

The Cougars will now hit the road for three straight contests away from Hofheinz Pavilion, beginning on Thursday when they face SMU in Dallas. Tip is set for 7 p.m.
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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Goodbye, Coach Kay Yow

North Carolina State head coach Kay Yow, 66, died this morning, after a long and extremely courageous battle with cancer.

Coach Yow coached at NC State for 34 seasons and accumulated 737 wins in spectacular coaching career.

She touched so many people's lives; so, to say see will be missed is a VAST understatement.

Coach Yow and I share a connection that I did not know about until a few months ago. We both were born on March 14.

Last year, during the month of March, the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) posted on its website, 'Happy Birthday' wishes to WBCA President Beth Bass. Beth's birthday is March 14. Well, I stored that tidbit of info until I saw Beth during WBCA's National Convention (and the Women's Final Four) in April 2008. After a press conference to formally announce the creation of the WBCA Pink Zone, I mentioned to Beth my birthday is March 14; and, Beth told me Coach Yow's birthday is also March 14.

After learning that news, I approached Coach Yow and expressed my admiration for her as a woman and a coach. She thanked me. Next, I told her my birthday is March 14. Coach Yow told me it was her honor to share a birthday with me. I was stunned; but, based on what I had been told by everyone who worked with her or who had the honor of knowing her, that was Coach Yow simply being Coach Yow.

Kay Yow had a way of making you feel important -- even if you didn't feel like you were important.

God Bless You, Coach. Rest In Peace.

"What others are saying in tribute to Coach Yow"

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Lady Coogs Roll Past Memphis

HOUSTON, TX -- The Houston Lady Cougars completely dismantled the University of Memphis this afternoon in an 83 to 65 victory inside Hofheinz Pavilion in front of a small (but very vocal) 394 fans.

UH toyed with Memphis in the first half playing a game of "Gimme That". Houston blocked seven shots (four by sophomore sensation Courtney Taylor) and picked off 11 steals (four by sophomore guard Brittney Scott) in the game's opening 20 minutes. In addition, Memphis shot 5 for 28 (17.9%) from the field and committed 17 turnovers.

"I would say, in a nutshell, we had one of our best defensive efforts that we've had all year," said UH head coach Joe Curl after the ball game.

The Lady Coogs led Memphis 38 to 23 at the half. Memphis shot 12 for 12 from the foul line.

Taylor finished the game with 11 points and 12 rebounds for her 20th career double-double. Scott scored a career-high 25 points. After making just 1 of her first 6 shots from the field, Scott drained 10 of her final 16 shots.

Freshmen guards Roxana Button (14 points) and Porsche Landry (12 points) also scored in double figures.

With 15:59 left in the ball game, Houston (11-5 overall, 3-1 in conference) had outscored Memphis an astonishing 30 to 0 with points off turnovers! At that point in the game, Memphis had 20 turnovers to just six for UH.

"We tried to focus on defense more in practice," said Scott after the game. "We were more aggressive on defense and helped each other out."

Houston's aggressiveness resulted in 20 fouls which helped Memphis shoot 23 for 27 from the foul line. The Tigers made more free throws than field goals (18) and shot a higher percentage on their three-point attempts (31.6%) than their two-point tries (29.0%).

UH led by as much as 23 points in the second half; however, the reserves got a little careless and Memphis (8-10 overall, 1-4 in conference) pulled within 13 points (74 to 61) with 5:30 left in the game. Coach Curl inserted his starters and Scott and Taylor quickly combined for eight points in a two minute stretch to increase the lead to 19 points (82 to 63) and ice the game.

"We realize it's conference play," said Taylor. "We have to win the home games because it's harder to get a win on the road. We have to come out hard and strong and not play with anybody."

Houston improved to a perfect 8 and 0 at home with today's win.  
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HOUSTON, TX -- Saturday evening, with just under seven minutes left in the first half versus Jackson State, the Texas Southern Lady Tigers trailed 25 to 11 and showed no signs of what was to come. From some unseen source of inspiration, TSU's offense started clicking; and, the Lady Tigers finished the first half with an 18 to 4 scoring run to tie the game at 29 at halftime. Then, in the second half, the Lady Tigers finished the game with a 10 to 2 run and picked up a much needed 54 to 45 victory in front of 613 fans gathered inside the H&PE Arena.

TSU improved to 2 and 2 in the SWAC and 4 and 10 overall. Jackson State is 0 and 5 in the SWAC and 3 and 12 overall.

Only three players in the entire game shot 50 percent or better from the field. After starting the game 6 for 14 from the field, Jackson State only managed to make 8 more shots (8 for 41) the remaining 32 plus minutes. Jackson State finished the game shooting 25.5% (14 for 55).

TSU's shooting numbers look white-hot compared to JSU's. The Lady Tigers started the game just 5 for 21 from the field but finished the game making 15 of their last 34 shots. Overall, TSU shot 36.4% (20 for 55) from the field.

Jackson State's Erlexis Cooper scored a game-high 28 points on 7 for 14 shooting from the field and 14 for 21 from the free throw line. Cooper, by herself, outscored the Lady Tigers 15 to 10 by the 7:12 mark of the first half.

"We had to find a way to stop Cooper," said TSU head coach Yolanda Wells-Broughton. "We started putting post players in front of her and behind her. That was a big key for us."

TSU's Trikekya (Dee Dee) East was sensational in the game. East scored 19 points (9 for 16 from the field); grabbed eight rebounds; and picked up five steals in 37 minutes of work. Dee Dee sparked TSU's run to end the first half with eight of the 18 points.

"Dee Dee played both ends of the floor tonight. She's a defensive stopper. She was pumped up. Excited. She brought a lot of energy to the team. She brought what we needed."

TSU's Inisha Daughtry produced a double-double (12 points and 10 rebounds. Daughtry shot 6 for 10 from the field.

Camille Parks handed out six assists for TSU.

"I'm really proud of my team. I don't know if I have a pulse now; but, it feels great. I'm really proud of my players. They stuck to the game plan."

The Lady Tigers will look for their second straight home win Monday evening versus Grambling State (4-11 overall, 2-3 in SWAC). Tip is set for 5:30 p.m.
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Saturday, January 17, 2009

UH 61, UAB 50

HOUSTON, TX -- Friday night, the Houston Lady Cougars used balanced offense and solid team defense to defeat the UAB Blazers 61 to 50 in front of an announced crowd of 426 fans inside Hofheinz Pavilion.

"I felt like we probably played our best 40 minutes of team defense we've played all year," said Houston head coach Joe Curl after the game.

Jasmine Johnson was the only UH player to score in double figures. Her 12 points, on 5 for 10 field goal shooting, paced the balanced scoring attack. Eight Lady Cougars scored at least two points. Two players (Brittney Scott and Porsche Landry) scored nine points while three others (Brittany Mason, Courtney Taylor, and Roxana Button) each added eight points.

Houston (10-5 overall, 2-1 in C-USA) ended the first half with a 10 to 2 scoring run to lead UAB 30 to 23 at the half. The Lady Cougars extended the scoring run with a 13 to 4 burst to start the second half and lead UAB 43 to 27 with 14:16 left in the ball game. Six UH players scored during the run.

The Blazers got as close as 10 points (49 to 39); but, Houston's Brittany Mason scored seven straight points to finish off UAB.

Mason's game continues to improve and evolve. She came to UH as more of a track and field athlete than a basketball player; but, she has quickly become a solid basketball player - on both ends of the floor - in her sophomore season.

"The difference is Coach makes me feel a lot more comfortable," Mason said. "Plus, my teammates keep talking to me. I just try and stay relaxed and do nothing I can't do."

Jasmine Johnson's pressure defense on UAB's Amanda Peterson set the tone for Houston's team defense. Peterson made just 1 of her 8 shots and finished the game with only two points in 33 minutes.

"I was guarding number two (Peterson) the whole game and she only had two points," said Jas after the game. "I was proud about that. Our goal was to stop her and number 25 (Britney Jones)."

UAB's Jones led all scorers with 23 points; however, Jones committed a game-high seven turnovers and shot 10 for 23 from the field.

"I think our best basketball is in front of us and that says a lot for our team," concluded Coach Curl.

Houston's next game is Sunday afternoon home game versus Memphis. Tip is set for 2 p.m.
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Monday, January 05, 2009

Owls Top Colonials

HOUSTON, TX (Tudor Fieldhouse) -- The Rice Owls came into Monday night's game versus George Washington with two consecutive losses by a combined 64 points. George Washington had faced four top-ten teams and, except for a 19-point thumping at the hands of Texas A&M on Saturday, GW gave those top-ten teams all they could handle.

Advantage GW, right? Uh...No.

Rice led GW 44 to 28 at halftime and held on to defeat the Colonials 78 to 68. After breaking a 2 to 2 tie, Rice (5-8) never trailed the rest of the ball game.

Owls' freshman point guard D'Frantz Smart led the Owls with 22 points; six assists; and four steals. Smart played 39 (out of a possible 40)  minutes in the game.

Senior Maudess Fulton was in attack mode in the first half and scored 13 of her 20 total points to get the Owls off to the fast start.

"I think everyone was just trying to be a lot more aggressive," Fulton said after the game. "We were just taking what the defense gave us and it worked to our advantage."

The Colonials Jessica Adair (6'4") began imposing her will on the Owls in the second half. Adair went to work on the low block and scored 17 second-half points to help pull GW within four points (68 to 64) with 3:43 left in the game. However, Fulton scored a driving lay up to put the Owls up by six. After Adair scored four more points (around two free throws by Owls junior guard Tara Watts), Owls sophomore post Morgan Mayse drained a three-point shot to give the Owls a 75 to 68 lead with 90 seconds remaining.

"When Morgan made that three, that was a huge weight off our backs," said Smart.

After the Owls woeful showing on Saturday in the 81 to 50 road loss to UT-San Antonio, Smart said the team got together in practice and decided to play better for themselves, their coaches; and their school.

"I think that blowout changed our mentality in how we approach games," Smart declared. "After getting blown out by a team that was 5 and six by 30 -- we were down by 40 at one point -- it was embarassing to us, and most importantly, it was embarassing to our coaching staff and to Rice University. We knew, today, we were going to have to step it up and represent our school; ourselves and our coaches. That's exactly what we did."

After the game, Owls head coach Greg Williams said, "It was a night and day performance from just two days ago. We'd been pathetic our last two games getting beat by a combined 64 points. We hadn't been competitive or aggressive. They set a tone yesterday (in practice). They had good focus and good energy. I didn't know that would carry over to the game. We were more aggressive attacking the basket tonight. We were crisp tonight. We were sharp. We had more energy. We were a totally different team."

The Owls begin Conference USA play this Friday versus UTEP (2008 C-USA regular season champs - undefeated) in El Paso, TX. Tip is set for 8:05 p.m.
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Sunday, January 04, 2009

Aggies Stay Unbeaten

COLLEGE STATION, TX -- The Texas A&M Aggies stayed unbeaten (12 - 0) Saturday evening with a dominant 78 to 59 victory over George Washington before a season-high crowd of 6,892 fans inside Reed Arena.

Tanisha Smith made two three-point shots to give the Aggies a 6 to 0 lead. Senior guard Takia Starks swished a three-pointer to put the Aggies up 9 to 0. The Aggies never trailed in the ball game. 

GW's All-America candidate, Jessica Adair, picked up two fouls early in the ball game; so, Colonials' head coach Mike Bozeman, sat his star post player down the final 16 minutes of the first half. Sitting Jessica negated Bozeman's plan to control tempo by pounding the ball down low.

"I though we would be able to exploit things inside with Jessica," Bozeman said.

Starks scored 13 points in the first half and Smith added 12 to help the Aggies to a 40 to 23 halftime lead.

"I was just in the right places at the right times," said a modest Smith after the game.

The Aggies forced 19 turnovers by GW in the opening half.

GW began the second half with a 10 to 2 scoring burst to pull within 11 points (44 to 33). Jessica Adair scored six points and blocked one shot during the run. Starks stopped the run by draining two three-point shots sandwiched around a made jumper by teammate Danielle Gant.

Texas A&M's run ballooned to 27 to 11 which gave the Aggies a 27 point lead (71 to 44) with 5:57 left in the game.

Aggies head coach Gary Blair substituted his deep reserves and the Colonials were able to trim the lead to 18 points (75 to 57); but, the game was clearly well in hand.

Starks finished the game with a game-high 22 points. Gant scored 17 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Smith finished the game with 16 points.

Erica Rivera led the Colonials with 13 points off the bench.

The Aggies were the fourth top-ten team (Tennessee; Auburn; and Rutgers) the Colonials played thus far. A&M's 19 point victory was the largest of the four top-ten teams.

"We played the No. 3-ranked team in the country at their place," said Coach Bozeman. "Great atmosphere. Great crowd participation. I take nothing away from A&M. I don’t come into games prepared to make excuses why you lose. I will point to 29 turnovers. I won’t say we committed 29 turnovers...I will say they caused us to commit 29 turnovers. My hat goes off to the A&M coaching staff and players, they did a great job tonight."

Coach Gary Blair credited his team's depth for forcing the 29 turnovers.

"You wear people out. Twenty-nine turnovers sometimes comes from unforced errors because they are so tired on offense. We probably missed 12 shots in the paint. We have to do a better job. We were going against big players tonight. We have to learn how to finish against that type of size, because we are going to see it in the Big 12."

The Aggies head to Tallahassee, FL, to play the Florida State Seminoles on Monday, January 5. Then, Big 12 play begins with a road game versus Missouri on January 10.

The Colonials (7-6) continue their road trip with a game versus the Rice Owls on January 5. Then, A-10 play begins with a road game versus Richmond on the 10th. 
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Saturday, January 03, 2009

#3 Ags host GW

COLLEGE STATION, TX -- The undefeated (11-0) and third-ranked Texas A&M Aggies host George Washington (7-5) at 5:00 p.m. today inside Reed Arena.

George Washington holds a 2-0 advantage in the all-time series with Texas A&M. The Colonials handed the Aggies a 59-47 loss in the NCAA Second Round on March 19, 2007 in Los Angeles and a 66-65 overtime loss on Dec. 20, 2007 in Washington, D.C.

GW has yet to find a win on the road this season (0-3) with losses at Western Kentucky (64-72) on Dec. 21, at Kentucky (48-67) on Dec. 23 and at No. 14 Rutgers (47-57) on Dec. 29.

The Aggies’ current 11-game win streak is tied for second all-time in the A&M record books along with an 11-game stretch during the 1974-75 season under former head coach Kay Don. One more victory would tie the Aggies’ school-record 12-game win streak they put together en route to their historic run to the NCAA Elite Eight in 2007-08. Overall, A&M has won 27 of its last 29 games dating back to a 58-51 win at Kansas on Jan. 26, 2008.

A&M will close out non-conference play over the next four days with a quick turnaround game at 2008 NCAA Tournament participant Florida State on Monday, Jan. 5 at 6 p.m. (CT) in Tallahassee, Fla., prior to its Big 12 opener at Missouri on Saturday, Jan. 10 at 5 p.m. (CT) in Columbia, Mo.

Aggies' head coach Gary Blair is searching for his first career win versus George Washington. He is 0-4 against the Colonials in his 24 years as a Division I head coach. Aside from A&M’s 0-2 all-time series mark, Blair previously faced GW on two occasions during the 1998-99 and 1999-00 seasons while the head coach at Arkansas.

Projected Starters

George Washington Colonials
0 -- Yolanda Lavender, 5'9", senior, G, 11.0 ppg, 1.7 rpg.
1 -- Jessica Adair, 6'4", senior, C, 12.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg.
5 -- Tiana Myers, 5'9", freshman, G, 6.5 ppg, 1.9 rpg.
13 - Antelia Parrish, 6'0", senior, F/G, 11.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg.
34 - Ivy Abiona, 6'2", sophomore, F, 5.2 ppg, 5.5 rpg.

Texas A&M Aggies
3 -- Takia Starks, 5'8", senior, G, 14.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg.
12 - LaToya Micheaux, 6'3", senior, C, 3.9 ppg, 6.7 rpg.
22 - Tanisha Smith, 6'0", junior, G/F, 7.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg.
51 - Sydney Colson, 5'8", sophomore, G, 5.3 ppg, 1.3 rpg.
55 - Danielle Gant, 5'11", senior, G/F, 13.6 ppg, 6.9 rpg.
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