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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Katrina McClain, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.

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Cardiac Coogs come-from-behind to defeat SMU

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Posted: January 27, 2018 -- 8:50 pm CST.

HOUSTON, TX (H&PE Arena) -- The Houston Cougars seem to enjoy winning games in come-from-behind fashion this season. Houston trailed the SMU Mustangs 52-44 with 5:09 remaining in the fourth quarter before outscoring the Mustangs 16-4 down the stretch to win 60-56. The fourth-quarter comeback was the seventh comeback of eight or more points in the second half for the Coogs this season.

Houston (16-6 overall, 5-3 in the American Athletic Conference) outscored SMU (7-14, 1-7) 21-12 in the fourth period.

"Hats to Coach (Travis) Mays because they had a helluva game plan," said Houston Head Coach Ronald Hughey in the post-game press conference. "They're tops in the conference in, I think, defensive field goal percentage; so, we knew it was going to be tough going against their half-court sets because they try to confuse you with a little bit of man and zone combination. So, we wanted to push the ball out and play in transition. We didn't get enough opportunities to do that because we didn't get enough stops.

"When the game came down to it, I'm going to lay my hat, my money, and everything on this team. I said in the summer; and, I say it again now: 'I love this team.' This team put in all the effort and energy and hard work all summer to get to this point. We haven't come this far just to come this far; and, so, to be able to see that kind of grit towards the end of games and to be able to finish games."

Final stats: Houston 60, SMU 56

Houston struggled to make field goals the entire game: Houston made 4 of 14 attempts (28.6%) in the first and third quarters and 6 of 18 attempts (33.3%) in the second quarter. However, in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter, Houston made 5 of 8 field goals.

"We had a couple (shots) early in the shot clock; but, when we're in rhythm, I love those shots," Hughey acknowledged. "We don't ever talk a lot about shot selection because they go hard on the defensive end; and, that's the pact that we made (coaches and players): give us what we want as a staff on the defensive end, we can live with some of the things they do on the offensive end."

On the other hand, SMU shot a high percentage in the first three quarters: 58.3% (7 for 12) in the first; 45.5% (5 for 11) in the second; and 46.2% (6 for 13) in the third before going ice cold down the stretch of the fourth quarter: 0 for 5.

"Well, you know, like Coach Hughey said, we just believed that we could do it," sophomore guard Jasmyne Harris said. "We always come back when we get down like that. Just putting our minds together and saying we're going to stop them from scoring."

Jasmyne Harris led the Coogs with 15 points. Angela Harris scored 13 points; and Serithia Hawkins scored 12 points and pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds for the 16th double-double of her career.

Houston swept the season series against SMU for the first time since 2010-11 and pushed the overall series record to 34-25.

With the victory, the Cougars picked up their fifth win in American Athletic Conference play, the most the program has achieved since joining the league.

Houston's next game is a return matchup against the Tulane Green Wave, Wednesday, January 31, at 7 p.m., inside H&PE Arena. Houston came from 21-points down to stun Tulane in overtime in the previous meeting this season.

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