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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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Coogs hold off Cincinnati in 54-46 win at home

POSTED: January 30, 2024 -- 11:10 p.m. CT

HOUSTON, TX (Fertitta Center) -- The Houston Cougars women's basketball team defeated the Cincinnati Bearcats 54-46 Tuesday night in a defensive battle.

"Houston was ready to go today," Katrina Merriwether, Cincinnati Head Coach said after the game. "And, it showed in their intensity; in their tenacity; in the way they attacked us right out the gate."

Cincinnati had 2 turnovers in the first 68 seconds of the game.

Houston led 4-0 after N'Yah Boyd sank a three-pointer. After Boyd's basket, Houston went into its full court pressure defense. The Bearcats struggled to get the ball inbounds; and, Coach Merriwether called timeout -- 108 seconds into the game.

After the timeout, Cincinnati settled down a bit.

Both teams struggled to make shots in the first quarter.

Houston made 3 of 13 field goals (23.1 fg%) in the first quarter while Cincinnati made 4 of 18 (22.2 fg%).

The score was tied at 11 after the 1st quarter.

Houston led 26-21 at halftime. Both teams made 9 field goals in the opening 20 minutes. Houston made 3 three-pointers to just 1 three for Cincinnati.

Houston's defense helped force Cincinnati into 7 turnovers in the third quarter which help to negate Cincinnati's 50 fg% (5 for 10) shooting in the period.

The Coogs made one more field goal (4 to 3) than the Bearcats in the final quarter.

In the second half, Houston took advantage of Cincinnati's 11 turnovers and scored 12 points while the Bearcats only scored 2 points off Houston's 8 turnovers.

"Unfortunately, we just couldn't make, what I thought were some open and easy shots," Coach Merriwether remarked.

Houston's lead was 4 (47-43) when senior forward Kamryn Jones -- in a span of 60 seconds -- knocked down back-to-back jumpers to increase Houston's lead to 51-43 with 1:32 to go in the game.

"Kam (Kamryn Jones) stepped up and hit two big shots down the stretch," Ron Hughey, Houston Head Coach said in his postgame press conference.

The Coogs' lead grew to 10 (54-44) with 15 seconds remaining before Cincinnati hit 2 free throws with 6 seconds on the clock for the final score.

Laila Blair scored a game-high 15 points for Houston. N'Yah Boyd was next with 11 points and Kamryn Jones scored 10.

Reagan Jackson and A'Riel Jackson each scored 13 points to lead the Bearcats. Jillian Hayes was next with 10 points.

With the win, Houston improved to 12-9 overall and 3-7 in the Big 12 while Cincinnati's record is now 10-10 and 2-7 in the Big 12.


Houston's next game is Sunday, February 4, at home, against Baylor. Tip is set for 2 p.m. on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.

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