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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 (for 9th time this season) in win over Memphis

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Posted: February 7, 2018 -- 10:50 pm CST.

HOUSTON, TX (H&PE Arena) -- Wednesday night, the Houston Cougars did two things they've done most of the 2017-'18 season: erase a deficit of eight or more points; and, more importantly, win.  For the ninth time this season, Houston won a game after trailing by eight or more points. The Coogs trailed 30-22 with 9 minutes and 10 seconds remaining in the third quarter; but, once again, the Coogs made timely shots and used tightened defense to defeat the Memphis Tigers 66-55 to improve to 19-6 overall and 8-3 in the American Athletic Conference.

Final stats: Houston 66, Memphis 55

"We are still trying to find that level of maturity to understand that each game and each opponent you

have to play at a championship level," said Houston Head Coach Ronald Hughey in his post-game press conference. "I think it’s our youth that is feeding us instead of our maturity.

"We’ve started to understand what it takes to win day in and day out. We turned it on, but Melissa

McFerrin (Head Coach at Memphis) is a very good coach. She had a good game plan and they knew in zones we would get stagnant a little bit. We started out the game over-passing. Two to four passes is normal for us, but we were making seven and eight passes without shooting the basketball which is unusual for us. We have been preaching to be a good teammate, but that was to the extreme.

"But I love this team because they are resilient. We practice a lot of defense and I was happy to see them change their mindset the last four minutes of the game and pull out the victory."

Houston trailed Memphis 11-7 at the end of the first quarter. The Coogs struggled to make shots (3 for 14) in the first quarter and also committed 8 turnovers. Memphis (7-16 overall, 2-8 in The American) made 5 of 12 field goals but 7 turnovers limited them on offense.

The Tigers shot 50 percent (7 for 14) in the second quarter; but, once again, turnovers (7) in the quarter hurt the Tigers. The seven turnovers helped keep the Coogs within striking distance at halftime despite 6 for 15 shooting from the floor in the second quarter.

The Coogs trailed Memphis 28-22 at halftime.

Coach Hughey said his halftime speech wasn't animated. He said he spoke to the team very stern and direct.

"I told them that they need to make a decision," Hughey said. "I don’t think they were in the right mindset and jumping up and down and throwing chairs and using vulgar language won’t put you in the place where you need to be. We promised each other we would go on this journey and this journey will lead us to a great destination. If they think that the destination is here now, go ahead and throw in the towel. They decided to come out and win the basketball game."

After the Tigers scored the first two points in the third quarter, Houston junior Serithia Hawkins scored 4 points during a 9-1 Houston run to pull the Coogs within one point (32-31) of Memphis with 4:08 left in the third period. The Tigers scored for a 34-31 lead; but, Hawkins knocked down a jumper and sophomore guard Angela Harris scored a lay-up to put the Coogs ahead 35-34 in the third quarter for the first time.

Houston finished the quarter with a 6-3 spurt to lead Memphis 41-37 after three periods.

Memphis cut Houston's lead to 41-39; however, Houston increased the lead to five points (46-41) before the Tigers scored seven straight points to lead 48-46 with 5:04 on the game clock.

Fourteen seconds later, Houston sophomore Dorian Branch made two free throws to tie the game 48. Then, Branch dished to Angela Harris for a go-ahead three-point basket.

Memphis scored a lay-up to cut the Coogs' lead to 51-50; but, Jasmyne Harris made a three-point shot (assist from Angela Harris) for a 54-50 lead. The Tigers tied the game at 54 with 2:05 remaining in the game.

Then, the Angela / Jasmyne tandem teamed up to lead the Coogs to a decisive 12-1 run to close out the game.

Angela knocked down a jumper to begin the run. Jasmyne made a three-point shot and a tough driving lay-up and a free throw to finish a three-point play. Next, Dorian Branch stole the ball and scored a lay-up for a 64-54 lead with 42 seconds on the clock. Angela Harris sank two free throws to close out the scoring.

"We feel like the second half was our half," said Angela Harris after the game. "We’ve been outscoring teams all season in the second half. Fourth quarter is go time, it’s our last chance to win the game. Either get it together, or we lose the game."

Angela Harris finished the game with 19 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists.

Jasmyne Harris finished the game with a game-high 24 points. She added 3 boards and 3 assists.

Houston lost the rebounding battle 46-29; however, Houston's defense helped force Memphis into 25 turnovers.  Houston shot 47.1% (16 for 34) from the floor in the second half. Memphis shot 9 for 29 (31.0%) in the second half.

Houston’s 19 wins are the most the program has earned since winning 26 games throughout the 2010-11 season.

The Cougars head back on the road for their only matchup of the season with Tulsa Saturday, February 10. Tipoff against the Golden Hurricane is scheduled for 2 p.m., inside the Reynolds Center.

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