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Coogs suprass last season's win total with 13th of the season, 73-55 over Wichita State

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Posted: January 2, 2018 -- 11:30 pm CST.

HOUSTON, TX (H&PE Arena) -- The Houston Cougars did not play great defense for many stretches Tuesday night; however, their offense, particularly stellar three-point shooting, helped the Coogs defeat the Wichita State Shockers 73-55. With the win, the Coogs improve to 13-3 overall and 2-0 in the American Athletic Conference. The 13 wins surpasses last season's win total of 12.

"Hats of to Keitha (Wichita State Head Coach Keitha Adams)," Houston Head Coach Ron Hughey said after the game. "She's always going to have her teams prepared. That team really plays hard.

"A little bit outmanned with our threes tonight; but, points in the paint, they're going to dominate and rebound the basketball. We got to clean those areas up. Take care of the ball a little bit more.

"But, overall, I thought we came with not enough energy that we needed to. We did pick it up, a little bit in spurts, in the second half to be able to pull out the win. But, where we're trying to take this program, we have to play much better and more consistent."

Final stats: Houston 73, Wichita State 55.

Houston made 11 of 23 three-point attempts (47.8%) while limiting the Shockers to 0 for 11 shooting from three-point range.

The Coogs led 20-8 after the first quarter.

Wichita State made 4 of 16 field goals in the opening 10 minutes. However, the second quarter was another story: the Shockers carved up the Coogs full-court defense with long passes over the top of the defense for layups. Also, the Shockers carved up the Coogs in the half-court with dribble penetration and layups. Next, on the rare moments Wichita did not make a basket (10 for 15 field goal shooting in the second period), the Shockers dominated the glass. The Shockers outrebounded the Coogs 13-3 in the quarter and 27-12 in the first half.

Despite the dreadful defense in the second quarter, Houston led 36-28 at halftime.

"On top of poor communication, it's the first time we've seen a press breaker where everybody is running all around; so, we got a little confused with that," Hughey said describing Wichita's beating Houston's full-court defense.

"And, when Serithia Hawkins is in foul trouble, and not stabilizing the floor, things get a little sporadic for us. But, we did have Octavia "Mimi" (Barnes) to come in to try to give us that foundation that "Momo" (Serithia) Hawkins was missing because of foul trouble. That's why we said, 'Forget it. Just go back (on defense) and not even try to get any steals.'

"And, I think we still ended up with 15 or 16 steals and should have had 30."

Hawkins picked up three fouls in the first half and played only six minutes in the half.

Octavia Barnes said Houston's problems on defense were "not getting our butts to the ball". "Up on the (free throw) line and not boxing out and not crashing the boards like we should."

Houston rebounded the ball better in the third quarter; and, the Coogs were able to force Wichita State into 9 turnovers in the quarter; however, the Shockers still shot 8 for 12 from the floor.

The Coogs shot 10 for 18 field goals in the third period including 4 for 6 threes. Sophomore Dorian Branch scored 13 of the Coogs' 26 points in the third quarter to help the Coogs outscore the Shockers 26-17 in the quarter.

"The better we get offensively I think it kind of hinders our defense," Hughey said jokingly. "Because they kind of want to relax a little bit.

"But, we always talk about 'how are you going to score on the nights when you can't score?' When offense is not there, how are you going to score? And, that's why we always rely on our defense. Our offense will be a plus for us."

Both teams' hot field goal shooting cooled considerably in the fourth quarter: Houston shot 3 for 11 while the Shockers shot 4 for 15. Houston won the fourth 11-10 to cap off the 73-55 win.

Houston's Jasmyne Harris scored a game-high 26 points. Branch was next with 16 points followed by Octavia Barnes' 10 points.

Houston's next game is Saturday, January 6, at Tulane, at 2 p.m.

"Tulane is a game that if you don't come to play, you'll be on the short end of the stick," Hughey said of the upcoming match-up with the Green Wave. "You've got to come sharp on every single detail. Every single press breaker. Every single defensive assignment. Every single shot. Every single rebound. Taking care of the basketball or else the game will get away from us really quick by 30. So, we've got a lot of work to do over the next 2 or 3 days to get prepared for that. It (the game) is at their place; so, we've really got to come out focused and do what we need to do."

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