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, February 23, 2009

Starks' Layup Stops Sooners

COLLEGE STATION, TX (Reed Arena) -- Takia Starks scored a driving layup with 5.6 seconds remaining to give the Texas A&M Aggies a 57 to 56 lead over the #2 Oklahoma Sooners. Oklahoma failed to score on their last possession and the 7035 fans gathered inside Reed Arena went bonkers! For the first time in anyone's recollection, fans "rushed the court" -- in jubilation -- at a women's college basketball game at Reed Arena.

Despite getting out rebounded an astounding 51 to 22 ("So what," said Aggies head coach Gary Blair after the game. "We got the W.") in the game, Texas A&M (21-5 overall, 9-4 in Big 12) found a way to end Oklahoma's 20-game winning streak. The Aggies picked up 16 steals and forced 29 turnovers. The Sooners (24-3 overall, 12-1 in Big 12) still hold a comfortable first-place in the Big 12.

Oklahoma used a 16 to 2 spanning the end of the first half and the start of the second half to lead the Aggies 42 to 28 with 17:52 remaining in the second half.

Coach Blair called a timeout to settle down his players; and, his team responded with a spectacular 25 to 4 run to lead 53 to 46 with 7:55 to go in the game. Aggies' senior Danielle Gant started the run with six straight points and junior Tanisha Smith ended the run with 7 of the last nine points. The Aggies' defense forced Oklahoma to turn the ball over nine times during the run which became a fastbreak drill at times.

Oklahoma settled down and Courtney Paris scored four straight points to trim the Aggies' lead to three points (53 to 50) with 5:53 on the game clock. After two made free throws by Oklahoma's Danielle Robinson, CP3 put the Sooners ahead 54 to 53 with another made layup. A&M's scoring drought continued for three more minutes and Robinson sank two more free throws to give OU a 56 to 53 lead with 3:27 left in the game.

With 2:09 in the game, Starks hit a jump shot and drew a foul on OU's Amanda Thompson for an "and 1" opportunity to tie the game at 56; but, Starks missed the foul shot.

Both teams struggled on offense down the stretch; and, when OU's Ashley Paris missed the front end of a "1 and 1" free throw situation with 26 seconds remaining, the Aggies had their chance to win the ball game.

Starks received the pass at the top of the key; squared up Thompson and beat her with a left handed dribble to the paint. The help side defense was late; and, Starks jumped pass the defender and banked in her layup to put the Aggies ahead for good.
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Sunday, February 22, 2009

UH Blows Chance to Tie for First

HOUSTON, TX (Hofheinz Pavilion) -- Friday night after a listless, but victorious effort, Houston head coach Joe Curl, in reference to a Sunday afternoon matchup versus 2 and 11 Tulsa, said "There's no way in Hell that we can have a let down."

Fast forward to Sunday afternoon.

Coach Curl said, "I was wrong."

Unfortunately for Coach Curl and his team, a second listless effort resulted in a loss this time. In the final home game of the regular season, Houston lost to Tulsa 59 to 55 in front of 606 fans inside Hofheinz Pavilion. With the loss, Houston (17-9 and 9-5 in Conference USA) blew a chance to tie for first place in the Conference with just two regular season games left to play.

"I was wrong. I was wrong, said Coach Curl. "We had a letdown and this was for first place; so, I'm very disappointed. Very disappointed. I'm just trying to collect myself."

The first half was poorly played by both teams. Tulsa (7-19 overall and 3-11 in C-USA) committed 11 first half turnovers while UH turned the ball over 10 times. Neither team shot better than 37 percent in the half.

Fittingly, the game was tied at 26 at the half.

Tulsa started the second half with a 12 to 2 run to put the Cougars behind 38 to 26 with 15:10 remaining. Then, Houston's Courtney Taylor hit a three-point shot from the top of the key to begin a UH comeback. After falling one steal (23 points, 14 rebounds, and 9 steals) shy of a triple-double on Friday night, Taylor scored just two points in the first half Sunday.

Houston's Brittany Mason hit a baseline jump shot to cap off a 16 to 3 run to give the Coogs a 42 to 41 lead with 9:10 on the clock.

Despite three straight Tulsa turnovers, Houston could not stretch the lead and Tulsa led 45 to 42 after a top of the key jumper by Larissa Williams with 5:51 remaining.

Taylor scored four points in a 6 to 0 UH run to give the Cougars a 48 to 45 lead with 4:36 on the game clock. However, after a Houston turnover, Tulsa's Tatum Beer tied the game with a three-point basket. Then, after two made free throws by Taylor, Beer gave TU a 51 to 50 lead with another three.

Taylor split two free throws to tie the game at 51 with 2:22 remaining.

Tulsa failed to score on its next possession; and, Houston's sophomore center, Cobilyn Hill, scored a lay-up to put UH 53 to 51 with 90 seconds remaining.

Larissa Williams split two free throws for Tulsa; but, Tulsa picked up a HUGE offensive rebound which ultimately resulted in a three-point basket by RaShawndra Jackson to give Tulsa a 55 to 53 lead with just 51 seconds in the game. Houston never led after that basket.

Jackson's three and Beer's two threes in the final 3:32 of the game were the only three-point shots Tulsa made the entire ball game.

 "I don't know where to start," Taylor said after the game. "It was just a bad game. I'm at a loss for words."

Taylor was in tears after the loss.

"I take losing personal; so, it's very disappointing."

Houston 35.0% (21 for 60) from the field for the game and committed 18 turnovers. Despite 22 turnovers, Tulsa shot 39.7% (23 for 58 from the field) and outrebounded Houston 45 to 37.
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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Aggies Thwart Texas

COLLEGE STATION, TX -- The Texas A&M Aggies used balance offense and stifling defense to defeat arch-rival Texas 76 to 65 Saturday afternoon in front of 5840 fans inside Reed Arena.

The Aggies forced the Longhorns (19-7 overall, 7-5 in the Big 12) to turn the ball over 29 times.

"Congratulations to A&M," said Longhorns head coach Gail Goestenkors. "I thought they played a tremendous defensive game. I know they weren't hitting their offensive shots earlier on. They did a good job defensively and caused us to turn the ball over."

The Aggies (20-5 overall, 8-4 in Big 12) started slowly against the Longhorns' zone defense and trailed Texas 17 to 10 before Danielle Gant keyed an Aggies' comeback.

"We were able to hang in there because we were making them miss on the other end," said Aggies head coach Gary Blair. "They were turning over the ball more than us. That's when they could have really stretched the lead. They didn't take advantage of it."

Gant drained two free throws; hit a jump shot; and scored two layups to pull the Aggies within one point (19 to 18) with 3:44 left in the first half. Nearly two minutes later, Gant drained a short jumper to give the Aggies a 26 to 25 lead.

The Aggies led 31 to 27 at the half. Gant scored 10 first half points.

Texas committed 15 turnovers in the first half and shot 8 for 22 (36.4%) from the field. The Aggies turned over the ball nine times and shot 11 for 29 (37.9%).

Texas started the second half with a 9 to 4 run to lead 36 to 35 before Takia Starks made a three-point shot (her first field goal of the game) to put the Aggies ahead 38 to 36.

Fifteen seconds later, Gant and Longhorn freshman Ashleigh Fontenette banged heads while diving for a loose ball. Both players lay on the court a few minutes before being helped to the bench. While Fontenette returned to the game a few minutes later, Gant never returned to the game because she was suffering concussion-like symptoms. Gant scored 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in 26 minutes.

With Gant out of the game, the Aggies picked up the slack. Freshman Adaora Elonu scored 10 points the rest of the game and Sydney Colson scored six of her eight points in the second half to help the Aggies pull away from the Longhorns.

"We thrive on our defense," saidd Colson. "When we get steals and we are finishing on the other end, it's a real confidence booster for us and gives us the momentum to finish out a half or a game."

Starks added "Like always, when we revert to our defensive mindset, we always make things happen. Our defense always gives us a chance to actually execute on offense, because that's what we strive upon. "

Starks scored 18 points; but, she was just 4 for 16 from the field. She made 8 of her 10 free throws.

With the win, the Aggies broke a four-way tie for third place. 

Next up for the Aggies is a Big Monday match-up (ESPN2, 6:30 PM CST) with #2 Oklahoma. The Sooners, 24-2 overall, sit atop the Big 12 with a perfect 12 and 0 conference record.  
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Friday, February 20, 2009

Coogs Steal Win from SMU

HOUSTON, TX -- The Houston Cougars played poorly Friday night versus the SMU Mustangs; but, someway, somehow, the Cougars found a way to come from behind to defeat SMU 75 to 73 before 509 fans inside Hofheinz Pavilion.

Houston's Courtney Taylor was a HUGE part of that "someway, somehow". Taylor finished the game with 23 points, 14 rebounds, and 9 steals to barely miss producing the fourth triple-double in UH women's basketball history.

Taylor was truly spectacular; however, despite Taylor's marvelous performance, UH trailed the Mustangs 41 to 33 at halftime. Houston's first half defense was atrocious.

"No, it was the poorest defense you've seen us play," said UH head coach Joe Curl. "Let's hope it's the last time that you see that defense. I felt we were lackadaisacal on both ends of the court. If you're going to be lackadaisacal it better be on the offensive end and not the defensive end. It was the poorest defense we've played all year."

Taylor's spectacular night started with 13 points, six rebounds, and six steals in 15 minutes of first half action. Despite Taylor's gawdy numbers, UH still trailed 31 to 25 with 2:57 remaining in the first half. SMU carved up Houston's defense by making 14 of their last 21 shots over the final 8:03 of the half.

Mustangs' forward Brittany Gilliam capped off the first half by draining a three-point basket at the buzzer for the 41 to 33 lead.

"I don't know why we started so slow," said Taylor after the game. "I think getting over that hump was the hardest part of the basketball game."

In the second half, SMU answered each run by the Cougars until the final 4:37 of the ball game. Trailing the Mustangs 68 to 61, Houston center Cobilyn Hill swished two free throws to begin the remarkable comeback. Ashlee' Joseph made a short jumper and cannned two more foul shots to pull Houston within one point (68 to 67) with 3:01 on the clock.

Then, Taylor picked up her eighth steal of the game and dribbled down the court and converted a lay-up to give UH a 69 to 68 lead with 2:08 remaining. UH's lead lasted all of 33 seconds when SMU's Jillian Samuels swished a 25-foot three-point shot to give the Mustangs a 71 to 69 lead with 95 seconds left in the game.

UH freshman point guard Porsche Landry split two foul shots to trim the deficit to one (71 to 70). Next, SMU's Delisha Wills scored a tough lay-up over Joseph and drew a foul for a three-point play opportunity. However, Wills missed the free throw; so, UH trailed 73 to 70 with just 51 seconds in the game. Landry drove the floor and scored a lay-up in nine seconds; then, Taylor picked up her ninth steal and dribbled the length of the court and scored to put Houston ahead 74 to 73 with 23 seconds on the clock.

"I'm glad we won that game," said Taylor. "That was, I think, the hardest game I've probably played." 

With five seconds remaining, Houston's defense forced another turnover by the Mustangs; and, Landry split two foul shots after getting fouled.

The Mustangs' final possession resulted in a bad inbound pass which Houston's Brittney Scott picked up to seal the dramatic victory.

Scott finished the game with 14 points. Landry scored 11 and Roxana Button poured in 12 points off the bench.

Houston's record improves to 17 and 8 overall and 9 and 4 in Conference USA. SMU's record falls to 16 and 10 overall and also 9 and 4 in C-USA.

Taylor did not realize how many steals she had in the ball game until she was told after the game.

"I didn't (realize it). That breaks my heart. That's nine. I was one away. (sighs)"

"In the thirty years I've coached," said Coach Curl. "It's one of those games we won that I don't know how we won; but, we're tied for second place and that's all that matters."

Coach Curl has no concerns about his team having a let down Sunday afternoon versus Tulsa.

"I'll be quite honest with you," said Coach Curl. "There's no way in Hell that we can have a let down. There's no way we can have a letdown with what's on the line (first place in C-USA or at the least a first-round bye in the C-USA Tournament). We've coached them and taught them that every game is equally as important. We're tied for second. To have a letdown right now would be absolutely unacceptable; and, I can tell you right now, Courtney Taylor won't let them have a letdown because she'll say something when we walk out of the locker room (Sunday afternoon) that will make a bigger difference than what we say in the locker room. It comes down to players."

Taylor agreed. "We're right there (one game out of first place). I'm doing everything in my power to keep us motivated. Everybody knows it. That was the main focus at halftime in the locker room - 'Do you realize how close we are to first place?' I think everybody finally got it in the last three minutes of the game and we were able to pull it out at the end of the ball game."

Sunday's game versus Tulsa tips off at 2 p.m.
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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Dollar Day for Ags versus OU

COLLEGE STATION, TX -- Big Monday matchup for just $1.

Dollar Day Women's Hoops Set For Big Monday Game on Feb. 23

Dollar Day specials will also include concession items such as hot dogs, soft drinks and popcorn priced at $1 while supplies last.
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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Aggies Crush Colorado

COLLEGE STATION, TX -- The Texas A&M Aggies jumped out to a 12 to 2 lead over Colorado Saturday afternoon and never looked back as the Aggies cruised to a 79 to 50 victory in front of 4469 fans gathered inside Reed Arena for the Aggies' "Third Annual BTHO Breast Cancer" Game.

“There was no way that we thought we would be up 12-2 to start off the game,” said Aggies head coach Gary Blair after the game.

The Aggies took advantage of favorable match ups through out the ball game.

Tanisha Smith came off the bench and led the Aggies with 15 points and a career-high 10 rebounds. Smith led four Aggies in double-figure scoring. Redshirt-freshman Tyra White scored 12 points off the bench; and, seniors Takia Starks (11 points) and Danielle Gant (12 points) combined for 23 points.

Smith said she didn't feel her game changed at all returning to the bench.

“I think my game is still the same. I was just a little more focused today. In the past, I felt like I was letting my team down. I didn't score or rebound to my ability. I didn't defend like I could. Overall, I felt like I had a better game today. I picked up my defense and came out more prepared.”

Texas A&M (19 - 5 overall, 7 - 4 in Big 12 play) led Colorado (10 - 12, 2 - 8) 38 to 16 at halftime. Colorado shot a frigid 28.6% (8 for 28) from the field in the first half while the Aggies shot 44.1% (15 for 34). A&M also dominated the Buffaloes on the glass outrebounding CU 27 to 14.

Colorado sophomore Brittany Spears played with much more aggressiveness in the second half which helped Colorado trim the Aggies 26 point lead (50 to 24) to 17 with 13:32 remaining in the game. Spears scored nine of CU's first 17 points in the second half. Unfortunately, Spears missed two straight short shots which would have pulled Colorado within 15 points. The Aggies responded with a 9 to 0 run to lead 59 to 33 and blow the game wide open.

Spears finished the game with a game-high 25 points (9 for 26 from the field) and 10 rebounds.

A&M bounced back from a Wednesday road loss to Texas Tech by crashing the glass and playing tough defense.

“As far as the road trip to Tech,” said Smith. “We didn't have any chemistry on offense or defense. We got back home; we went to work; and didn't take a day off. I think our chemistry is coming along. We just need to take it on the road with us.”

The Aggies finished the game with a 50 to 32 rebound advantage and 14 assists on 30 made baskets.

Coach Blair summed up the significance of today's breast cancer awareness game.

“Life is so precious. It is just very meaningful when you go back to the cause, the Kay Yow Foundation. When you lose a great person, it is more important than losing a great player or a great coach. She was just a great person. We can use this game and games across the country to rally around someone who gave her life back to fighting cancer. She battled it and I hope if that happens to me someday, that I can be a battler like her and go out and raise money for the cure.”
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Friday, February 13, 2009

Busy Valentine's Day

I can't be in two places at once let alone three places; but, I do urge you to check out some women's college basketball on Saturday, February 14. Yes, I know that's Valentine's Day; but, you can see some good basketball; support a good cause; and enjoy yourself as well.

First, the Houston Cougars (16 - 7 overall, 8 - 3 in Conference USA) host the Texas-El Paso Miners (7-4 in C-USA) at Hofheinz Pavilion in a nationally televised basketball. The game will be shown on CBS College Sports Network. UH is undefeated at home and UTEP won the 2008 C-USA regular season title last season.

All fans will be admitted to the contest for only $1 and are encouraged to wear pink.

Second, the Rice Owls hope to "Pack the House Pink" versus Tulane at 2 p.m. The game is a designated PinkZone game as the Women's Basketball Coaching Association is committed to raising breast cancer awareness and funding. Everyone who wears pink to Saturday's game receives half-price admission. Pink t-shirts will also be on sale and all proceeds benefit the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund.

Lastly, also at 2 p.m., the Texas A&M Aggies host Colorado inside Reed Arena in the "Third Annual BTHO Breast Cancer" Game. Tickets to the game are on sale for $10 with $8 going towards the Kay Yow Foundation. Tickets are priced at $10 for all seating levels in the arena and may be purchased online at www.AggieAthletics.com or by via telephone at 1-888-99-AGGIE.

By the way, if you're wondering, I'll be inside Reed Arena.

Happy Valentine's Day.
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Griner, Bone Headline 2009 WBCA All-America Game

ATLANTA -- Brittney Griner (Aldine Nimitz HS, Houston, TX) and Kelsey Bone (Sugarland Dulles HS, Stafford, TX) headline the 2009 Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) High School All-America Game.

Griner and Bone are two of 20 high school stars chosen to participate in the 2009 WBCA High School All-America Game.

The 20 players wll be divided into two teams of 10 players each. The college-style regulation game is scheduled to tip off at 4:30 p.m. CT, on Saturday, April 4, at Washington University’s Athletic Complex in St. Louis, MO.

The state of Texas is very well represented among the 20 players. In addition to Griner and Bone being named to the team, Nikki Greene from Diboll, TX (signed with Penn State); Cokie Reed from Hewitt, TX (signed with Texas); and Waltia Rolle from Fresno, TX (signed with North Carolina), will also participate in the game.

In fact, two more players from the Houston area were named to the list of 20 of players who were selected Honorable Mention as Lauren Flores (North Shore HS, Houston, TX - signed with Texas) and Monique Smalls (The Woodlands HS, The Woodlands, TX - signed with Texas Tech) were named to that list.
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Griner Named WBCA HS Player of the Year

ATLANTA -- Brittney Griner, from Houston's Aldine Nimitz High School, has been named the 2009 State Farm / WBCA High School Player of the Year.

Griner, 6'8" -- yes, six foot eight inches -- is currently averaging 27 points; 13 rebounds; and 11 blocks per game.

Brittney's claim to fame is she can dunk a basketball WITH EASE. Check for yourself and head to YouTube.

Griner signed a National Letter of Intent with Baylor University.

Griner will be formally honored on Saturday, April 4, during the WBCA High School All-America Game presented by Nike at Washington University’s Athletic Complex in St. Louis, MO.
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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Coogs Hold Off Green Wave

HOUSTON, TX -- Thursday night's game versus Tulane tipped off "separation week" for the Houston Cougars women's hoops team. At least that's how UH head coach Joe Curl defined this week. Before the game, Houston owned a one game lead over the Green Wave in the Conference USA standings.

"We talked all week about this being a separation week, said Coach Curl. "Separation from the pack so to speak."

The lead is now two games. Houston (16 - 7), 8 - 3 in C-USA) used a 15 - 0 second half run to help defeat Tulane (14 - 11, 6 - 5 in C-USA) 70 to 63 in front of 423 fans gathered inside Hofheinz Pavilion. One of the fans was University of Houston President Renu Khator. (President Khator sat courside; and, she definitely looked like she was enjoying herself at the game.)

"Our team went over to her and said 'hi' to her after the ball game," said Coach Joe Curl. "She's a great lady; and, she's going to be a President that gets the University of Houston on the map."

Coach Curl added how special it was to see President Khator attend the game.

"Absolutely. Absolutely. We think we have a fun product to watch."

The Cougars struggled in the first half of the ball game. Three of Houston's key players played reduced minutes due to foul trouble. Point guard Porsche Landry picked up 3 fouls in just 11 minutes. Center Cobilyn Hill picked up two fouls in 15 minutes and forward Courtney Taylor picked up two fouls in 12 minutes of play. In addition Taylor (2 for 7), Hill (1 for 7), and shooting guard Brittney Scott (1 for 6) combined to shoot 4 for 20 from the field in the opening half.

"We just were not dialed in with both posts and guards," added Coach Curl. "When guards were playing decent, the posts weren't. When the posts were playing pretty decent, the guards weren't."

Despite the foul trouble and poor shooting, Houston trailed Tulane 29 to 25 at halftime. UH freshman guard Roxana Button's seven points on 3 for 5 shooting helped keeping the Cougars close in the first half.

"She's turned from a freshman into a sophomore," added Coach Curl. "She's got all kinds of skills. She made baskets when we needed them. She brought us back. It's a luxury to have somebody like her because she can burn you inside and out."

Button added, "I came in and tried to be a spark. We were moving kind of slow; so, I just tried to bring some energy and get us back in it (the game)."

Tulane led UH 39 to 34 after a made basket Megan Valicevic (from The Woodlands HS); but, Taylor answered with four straight points to start the 15 - 0 run. Taylor's steal and lay up seemed to amp her teammates and the crowd.

"They (Tulane) had been running that play the whole night," Taylor said. "I knew we were down and I knew we needed something to pick ups; so, I just played the passing lane and scored." 

Landry put Houston ahead 40 to 39 with a pull up jump shot at the 12:09 mark. Houston held Tulane scoreless for seven minutes and 45 seconds.

"We picked up our defense in the second half," said Landry. "We started boxing out better."

With 2:36 remaining in the game, Houston led 55 to 43; but once Landry fouled out of the ball game, the Green Wave mounted one final push and trimmed Houston's lead to just six points (57 to 51) with 1:34 left in the game. Houston's defense didn't allow Tulane another point until six seconds were on the game clock.

Taylor closed out UH's scoring with three free throws.

Taylor finished the game with a game-high 21 points. Fifteen of the points were scored in the second half.

"I think I was more aggressive the second half," Taylor summarized. "I tried to attack more as well as get everybody else open."

Houston held Tulane to just 28.1% (18 for 64) from the field and the Cougars outrebounded the Green Wave 46 to 42. UH shot 39.3% (22 for 56) from the field and committed 21 turnovers.

"Even though we had 21 turnovers," Coach Curl said. "I felt like we handled their defense pretty well. It was just goofy things where we handed it right to them. But, to get out here with a win, is just great."

The Cougars continue "Separation Week" with a Saturday showdown versus Texas-El Paso. UTEP trails Houston by one game in Conference USA. Tip is set for high noon; and, the game will be shown on CBS College Sports.
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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Aggies Double Up Nebraska

COLLEGE STATION, TX -- The Texas A&M started slowly Sunday afternoon versus the Nebraska Cornhuskers. In fact, the Aggies trailed the Cornhuskers 6 to 4 at the 15:19 mark of the first half. Once Aggies' senior forward Danielle Gant put the Aggies ahead 8 to 6, A&M never trailed the rest of the game and ended up blasting the Cornhuskers right out of Reed Arena 86 to 43 in front of 4468 fans.

"We weren’t denying the ball in the first four minutes," said Aggies junior forward Tanisha Smith. "We were basically letting them do what they wanted in there. We picked up our defense and kept our intensity from there on."

Nebraska (10 - 12 overall, 1 - 8 in Big 12) head coach Connie Yori summed her team's performance quite well.

"We are embarrassed. We played horrible; and, I was very disappointed in our effort to handle pressure. It was clearly our worst game of the year."

The Aggies led 40 to 25 at the half; and, cranked up their defense in the second half to another level and overwhelmed the Cornhuskers.

The Aggies (18 - 4, 6 - 3) held Nebraska to just five made baskets in the second half on 21 shot attempts for a frigid 23.8%. Nebraska shot 28.3% (13 for 46) for the game and committed a season-high 28 turnovers.

The Aggies bench players outscored their NU counterparts an astounding 47 to 4! Freshman guard Sydney Carter led the reserves with 13 points followed by 11 points from Tanisha Smith.

"When you can have that type of productivity (from your bench), you have to feel good," said Aggies head coach Gary Blair. "I thought our balance in our position was very good. We had good balance. I think that's what we're going to have to have the rest of the year."

Fourteen Aggies played in the game and 10 scored. The Aggies shot a season-high 61.0% (36 for 59) from the field and also outrebounded Nebraska 33 to 26.

Nebraska's lone bright spot in the ball game was shooting 16 for 16 from the free throw line.
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Saturday, February 07, 2009

PV Runs past TSU

HOUSTON, TX -- The Texas Southern Lady Tigers played very well for 20 minutes versus the Prairie View A&M Lady Panthers Saturday night in front of 200 fans gathered inside the H&PE Arena. However, TSU couldn't sustain the solid showing in the second half as PV defeated the Lady Tigers 73 to 57.

TSU (6 - 15 overall, 4 - 6 in the SWAC) shot 54.5% (12 for 22) in the first half and limited the Lady Panthers to 9 for 29 shooting from the field (31.0%) to lead 31 to 24 at halftime.

"I really felt like my kids came out with the energy that we've been lacking at the start of games," said TSU head coach Yolanda Wells-Broughton after the game. "We came out executing offensively and defensively; and, I know once we start making shots it gets us going."

TSU's Trikeyia East drained a three-point shot to give the Lady Tigers a 36 to 25 lead with 17:13 left in the second half.

Then, PV started attacking the basket on offense and applying full court press defense which took its toll on TSU.

Prairie View scored 10 straight points to trim TSU's lead to just one point (36 to 35) at the 15:31 mark; but, the Lady Tigers responded with four straight points before the Lady Panthers went to work.

Gaati Werema keyed a 10 to 4 PV run with four points to put the Lady Panthers ahead 45 to 44. PV scored 0 straight points to lead by 11 points before Ashlee Cooper ended the TSU drought by scoring on a short turnaround jump shot. 

Dominique Smith and Candace Thomas hit back-to-back three-point shots to give the Lady Panthers a 61 to 46 lead with just 6:03 remaining in the game.

PV led by as much as 19 points before Camille Parks made a three-point shot for the final points of the game.

"This is a big game for us. This is going to set the tone in how we finish the regular season and prepare for the SWAC Tournament. I'm really proud of my kids. They gave me everything that they've got. We gassed it out at the end; but, this was way more than we anticipated -- especially after that (blowout, 62 to 33) loss to them the first time (this season)."

PV's Candace Thomas led all scorers with 18 points. Dominique Smith added 16 points amd seven rebounds. Gaati Werema scored 13 points and Twila Stokes produced 12 points and eight rebounds off the bench.

TSU was led by 15 points each from Camille Parks and Trikeyia (Dee Dee) East. Tina Brown added 10 points.

After shooting 54.5% from the field in the first half, TSU shot just 35.3% in the second half and 42.9% (24 for 56) overall. PV shot 50% (16 for 32) in the second half and 41.0% (25 for 61) overall.
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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Coogs Keep Owls Winless in Conference

HOUSTON, TX (Tudor Fieldhouse) -- Cobilyn Hill and her "disposition to dominate" continued for a third consecutive game Wednesay night. Hill, sophomore center for the Houston Cougars, scored 18 points; grabbed eight rebounds; and blocked six shots as she led her team to a 66 to 56 victory over the Rice Owls inside Rice's Tudor Fieldhouse in front of 842 fans.

"I haven't been playing well all season," said Hill after the game. "But, these last three games I've had a disposition to dominate and get more focused and played harder."

Hill scored just four points in the first half on 2 for 7 shooting from the field; but, Houston head coach Joe Curl made a point to get the ball into Hill in the second half and Hill responded.

Hill went 4 for 5 from the field and hit all six of her foul shots for 14 second half points.

"I thought she was very dominant," said Coach Curl. "She still has to develop her disposition to dominate."

Despite shooting 45.2% (14 for 31) compared to Rice's 26.5% (9 for 34) from the field, Houston led the Owls by just six points (32 to 26) at halftime. The Cougars kept the Owls close thanks to nine first half turnovers. Brittney Scott led UH with 12 points in the opening 20 minutes.

"I knew they were going to come out and play us hard considering their our crosstown rival," Scott said. 

The Owls (5 - 17 overall, 0 - 9 in C-USA) started the second half more active on both ends of the court and outscored the Coogs 12 to 6 to tie the game at 38 on a basket by senior Maudess Fulton at the 15:23 mark.

The game was tied two more times at 40 and 42 before Hill scored six straight points; but, Fulton and teammate Tara Watts brought the Owls within two (48 to 46) before Houston freshman guard Porsche Landry started percolating.

Landry scored eight points (two jumpers and two lay ups) during a 13 to 5 UH run to give the Cougars a 61 to 51 lead with 3:34 left in the game.

 "My team is depending on me; and, I didn't do well in the first half," said Landry. "So, I did all I could in the second."

Landry's quickness was definitely evident during the scoring burst which put the game away.

"I have two speeds; so, I can change back and forth and it's really not that difficult."

The Cougars overall record improves to 14 and 7 overall and 6 and 3 in Conference USA.

Once again, the Owls struggled shooting the basketball. Rice shot just 31.8% (21 for 66) from the field. The poor shooting is definitely frustrating for the players and the coaches.

"It's just frustrating. We work on these in practice," Fulton said after the game. "We work on shooting all the time. It's basically just having it carry over into the game that we're having difficulty."

"We're really strugging to shoot the basketball," added Owls head coach Greg Williams. "We shoot 32 percent. You're just not going to win many games doing that. We missed a lot of lay ups early. A lot of easy shots early. We battled back. We came out the second half and tied the game up; but, we just can't seem to sustain anything."

Tara Watts led the Owls with 15 points on 5 for 7 field goal shooting (3 for 4 on threes). Freshman Candace Ashford came off the bench and scored nine points and blocked five shots in 27 minutes of play.

Times are so tough for the Owls Coach Williams cited the poor shooting and just a 10 point loss as a positive.

"We only gave them nine offensive rebounds. We only had 14 turnovers which for us is a big improvement. Those are positives."

The two teams face each other once again this Saturday afternoon at 5 p.m.; however, this time the game will take place at Hofheinz Pavilion. 
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Monday, February 02, 2009

Amazing Streak Ends at 112

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK -- Oklahoma's Courtney Paris said she wasn't sure how to respond to the end of her amazing double-double streak. Courtney had produced a double-double (points and rebounds) in a record-breaking 112 consecutive games before falling just one point (9 points and 12 rebounds) short in Oklahoma's 80 to 70 win over Tennessee Monday night.

"It's just overwhelming," said CP3 fighting back tears after the game. "I came here (to Oklahoma) to win a national championship. In the midst of that time, I've gotten that streak. I've set scoring records. I did all of these other things; and, tonight, I wish I would have played better. But, I realize that we have all the tools we need to do what I really want to do; so, it's just overwhelming and I'm just happy that we beat Tennessee. I'm grateful to have the support that I've had. You have no idea how it feels to hear all those fans chanting my name and to just appreciate the last few years I've had year. It makes me want to just finish off strong for them."

Despite the end to the streak, Courtney admitted a sense of relief.

"Honestly, yea. I was telling (teammate) Carolyn Winchester in the locker room after the game -- 'Carolyn, I don't even know how to feel right now.' But, I feel free. I feel like there's so much pressure off. Gosh! I think the best thing about it is tonight I didn't play the way I wanted to. Tonight, I didn't get in double-figures and we won and we won handily. I'm just so excited about the future of our program and our team."

Courtney's streak served as motivation and inspiration to her twin sister Ashley; and, Ashley shared her thoughts on the end of the streak as well.

"I've been trying to get to four double-doubles," said Ashley. "You guys have been trying to guess how much weight I lost -- some say 50; but, I've lost over 30 pounds to obtain a goal of getting a double-double every game and I can't do it. (Choking up) I know how hard it is just to do that. I'm so proud; and, I'm proud to have it (the streak) on my last name. It's tought. It's hard. It's just unbelievable what she has done."
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Sooners Top Tennessee

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK -- The Oklahoma Sooners showed the Tennessee Lady Vols they are much more than "Courtney Paris and others" Monday night with a thorough 80 to 70 victory over Tennessee in front of 12,552 fans gathered inside Ford Center. OU's win delayed the inevitable, but still remarkable, 1,000th coaching victory for Tennessee's head coach Pat Summitt.

OU's "others" included 20 points from sensational Sooners' freshman Whitney Hand. Hand shot a red-hot 8 for 9 from the field including 4 for 5 from the three-point line.

"Whitney Hand was 8 for 9," Summitt said after the game. "It wasn't like we didn't watch her on tape. We did look at tape. We knew her number. We knew that she was a great three-point shooter. Now for what reason our guards did not defend. Whitney did a great job of taking pressure off of (Courtney and Ashley Paris).

The game went back and forth the first six minutes of the first half. Courtney Paris picked up her second foul with 15:37 left in the first half. When she went to the bench, OU's play started declining. After Hand hit a three-pointer to give the Sooners a 16 to 12 lead, Tennessee's star freshman Shekinna Stricklen put on an offensive show.

Stricklen scored 15 of Tennessee's 20 points during a four minute, ten second burst which was simply spectacular. During that span, Stricklen picked up three steals; knocked down three, 3-point shots; two one pull-up jumper; one lay up and two free throws.

Tennessee led the Sooners 33 to 18 after the 21 to 2 scoring run; however, the Sooners settled down and turned up the defense and increased the efficiency on offense.

OU scored 19 consecutive points. Oklahoma's Nyeshia Stevenson started the blitz by canning a three-point shot. Stevenson sank two free throws and teammate Danielle Robinson scored seven points during the run.

Oklahoma led Tennessee 41 to 36 at halftime.

The game stayed close early in the second half; and, after Tennessee freshman Glory Johnson made two free throws, Oklahoma's lead was only two points (46 to 44) with 16:03 remaining in the game.

Hand and Robinson keyed an 11 to 2 run to put the Sooners ahead 57 to 46 at the 13:11 mark of the game.

Then, the Sooners blew the game open with a 15 to 8 run over the next seven minutes. Hand scored seven points during the decisive run.

Stricklen scored a game-high 21 points; but, she was just 1 for 6 from the field in the second half. Glory Johnson added 12 points and eight rebounds. Vicki Baugh scored 11 points; however, after making a layup, Baugh injured her left knee with 2:37 left in the game. Baugh was already wearing a brace on the knee after tearing her ACL last April in the NCAA Championship game and having additional problems and swelling in the left knee the last few weeks. Angie Bjorklund added 10 points in 26 foul-plagued minutes.

Hand's team-high 20 points paced four Sooners in double-figure scoring. Ashley Paris scored 19 points; Danielle Robinson scored 17 points; dished out a game-high 12 assists (8 TOs); and Nyeshia Stevenson added 11 points and four assists.

The one noticeable Sooner player missing from that double-digit scoring column is Courtney Paris. CP3 scored nine points and pulled down 12 rebounds to end her truly mind-blowing streak of 112 consecutive double-doubles. Courtney shot just 4 for 12 from the field and missed numerous shots around the basket. She fouled out of the game with 41 seconds remaining; and, the Sooners' fans gave her a rousing standing ovation.

"What a great atmosphere for women's college basketball," said OU head coach Sherri Coale. "What a wonderful stage. Two great teams who played very well; shot the ball extraordinarily well. We were fortunate enough that Whitney Hand was on our basketbal team tonight.

"We did what we needed to do. I thought our club showed great poise when they went on that run midway through the first half. We could have panicked. Many teams would have. A younger team probably would have; but, we didn't. We played possession by possession and kind of pulled from that resevoir of comebacks that we have and got it back in check where we could do something with it."

The Sooners shot 53.4% (31 for 58) from the field for the entire game while Tennessee shot 42.9% (24 for 56). The Sooners shot 63.0% (17 for 27) in the second half while Tennessee shot just 38.5% (10 for 26) in the second twenty minutes. Tennessee committed 14 turnovers in the second half and 24 in the game. The Sooners turned the ball over 19 times.

Oklahoma's record improves to 19 and 2 overall. Tonight's win is the 15th straight for the Sooners.

Tennessee's record falls to 16 and 5 overall.
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Summitt Going for 1000

OKLAHOMA CITY -- I'm in Oklahoma City waiting to witness (basketball) history in the making. Regardless of what any doubters and / or naysayers say, one thousand wins in anything is an impressive feat. Especially, winning 1,000 college basketball games.

Tennessee's Pat Summitt has a chance to become the first head coach in college basketball history to win 1,000 games tonight as her basketball team, the Tennessee Lady Volunteers, plays the #2-ranked Oklahoma Sooners inside the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, OK.

Tip is set for 6:30 p.m. The game is part of ESPN2's "Big Monday"; and, ESPN's "family of networks" has paid plenty of attention to Summitt's spectacular achievement for the last few days.

This year's Tennessee is squad is very young and inexperienced; and, despite being 16 and 4, the team has not lived up to Summitt's very high expectations.

Tonight's game versus the red-hot Sooners, 18 and 2 and winners of 14 straight games, is an extremely formidable challenge -- especially combined with Tennessee's injuries and subpar play of late.

However, those long odds simply provide Summitt another opportunity to show why she's an amazing coach.

"Praise for Summitt Comes From All Sides"
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