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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 struggle against zone defense in 83-60 loss to Baylor

POSTED: February 4, 2024 -- 11:10 p.m. CT

HOUSTON, TX (Fertitta Center) -- The Houston Cougars women's basketball team lost 83-60 to the Baylor Bears Sunday afternoon. Houston's defense had a mixed bag of success against Baylor. Baylor committed a season-high 26 turnovers; however, when the Bears weren't turning over the ball, they made 33 of 59 field goal attempts (55.9 fg%).

Conversely, the Coogs struggled to make shots. Houston missed 50 of 72 shot attempts (30.6 fg%). Houston had limited success rebounding its missed shots. The Coogs only had 14 offensive rebounds. Baylor won the battle of the boards 52-26.

Houston (12-10 overall, 3-8 in Big 12) made 7 of 16 shots (43.8 fg%) in the first quarter and trailed by just 4 (21-17) after 10 minutes. Baylor made 10 of 16 shots (62.5 fg%) in the opening quarter but committed 7 turnovers.

Baylor (17-4, 6-4) did not shoot the ball well in the second quarter. The Bears made only 5 of 15 (33.3 fg%) in 2nd period; however, the Coogs shot a worse percentage. Houston made 4 of 15 for just 26.7 fg%.

Houston trailed the Bears 37-29 at halftime. Baylor committed 13 turnovers in the first half; but, Houston only scored 11 points off those turnovers.

At halftime, Baylor switched to a zone defense to help contain Houston's attacks to the basket. The zone defense caught Houston by surprise.

"I was surprised for the zone," Ron Hughey, Houston Head Coach said after the game. "I think the girls were, too."

Nicki Collen, Baylor Head Coach, said of BU's zone defense: "I actually thought it was good for us because it kept them out of their comfortable high ball screen; stagger; pull game. That was bothering us some in the first half. They weren't making their shots; but, I thought they were getting to spots that they were really comfortable in."

Ironically, Coach Collen said, "I'm sure they were surprised that we played zone."

With Baylor's move to zone defense, Houston shot 11 for 41 (26.8 fg%) in the second half.

The Bears committed 13 more turnovers in the second half; but, just like the first half, the Coogs only scored 11 points off the 11 turnovers.

"We wasn't able to capitalize off the turnovers like we wanted to," Coach Hughey acknowledge.

Laila Blair, Houston's senior guard, had a tough shooting day. Blair made just 6 of her 22 shot attempts -- including 2 for 8 on threes.

"We need Laila Blair to have a better shooting night in games like this," Coach Hughey remarked. "Because, she's capable of being able to do that; but, she struggled tonight (today) as well."

Houston was outscored 44-22 in the paint; 8-1 in fast break points; and 28-21 in bench points.

Dre'Una Edwards scored 15 points to lead Bears in double-digit points. Yaya Felder scored 14; Darianna Littlepage-Buggs scored 12; and Jada Walker, Aijha Blackwell, and Bella Fontleroy each scored 10.

"Whatever happens, you gotta leave it there and move on to the next one", Coach Hughey said.


Houston's next game is Thursday, February 8, on the road, against Kansas. Tip is set for 6:30 p.m. on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.

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