Houston returns to winning ways at home
Tough defense and a career-high 27 points from sophomore forward Courtney Taylor headlined the UH women’s basketball team’s 80-65 victory over Central Florida on Sunday at Hofheinz Pavilion.
Taylor hit 10 of her 13 shot attempts to help the Cougars (12-6, 4-2 Conference USA) fend off a second-half surge by UCF (6-13, 4-2).
‘We played a good game,’ Taylor said. ‘We had to come out and win this game. (The career-high) is not a big deal.’
A 3-pointer by freshman guard Roxana Button gave UH its biggest lead of the game, 56-34, with 14:50 left in the game.
Central Florida stormed back with a 19-8 run to close the gap to 64-53 with 7:49 to go.
‘I thought (Central Florida) got very aggressive,’ UH head coach Joe Curl said. ‘We started talking at the 10-minute mark about how they had to change the game.’
UCF had a chance to cut the lead to single-digits with 4:09 left, but Button drew a charge on sophomore guard Marshay White.
‘Our players know what they’re doing and what they’re supposed to do on defense,’ Curl said. ‘What I’m most proud of is their effort, both physically and mentally.’
Central Florida continued to battle back when sophomore forward Amber Kirkpatrick hit back-to-back 3-pointers, cutting the Cougar’s lead to 70-63 with 2:40 left. The Cougars’ defense forced three turnovers on the Golden Knights’ next three possessions. After making most of its free throw attempts, UH was able to put the game away.
After trailing 12-9 early in the first half, UH turned it up on both ends. A 3-pointer by Taylor with 4:40 left in the half capped a 29-6 run that gave the Cougars a 38-18 lead.
UH created great looks on the offensive end during the run because of its effective defense. The biggest difference in the game came from points off of turnovers. The Cougars scored 41 points off of the Golden Knights’ 24 turnovers. UH committed 19 turnovers, but its defense tightened up in transition, allowing only 17 points.
‘We played a lot better than we did in the past couple of games,’ sophomore forward Brittany Mason said.
Mason led the Cougars in rebounds with 8, and she was also complimentary of Taylor’s performance.
‘At the end of the game, I looked up and asked Courtney if she knew if she had that many points,’ Mason said. ‘I was proud of her.’
Sophomore guard Brittney Scott, who scored 16 points on 5-10 shooting, echoed Mason’s sentiment.
‘(Courtney’s) a great player,’ Scott said. ‘She’s a leader on the court. She does most of the talking and keeps us together.’
Curl said Taylor might have been motivated by something that occurred on the court.
‘One of the things I noticed was she got really irritated about what was (happening) on the court,’ Curl said. ‘When you have a player who is so demonstrative, and will bring that to the huddle, you have a chance to be as good as you want to be.’
The Cougars are still perfect at home, but Curl’s team knows that it must duplicate its home performances on the road if it wants to contend for a conference title.
‘On the road, we do stuff that we don’t normally do,’ Mason said. ‘We play a little slow.’
‘Success breeds success, and failure breeds failure,’ Curl said. ‘We’ve played a heck of a schedule, and we have to feed off of that. We have to take the mentality we have (at home) and transfer it.’
The Cougars will try to break their two-game road losing streak when they travel to Dallas to take on Southern Methodist at 7 p.m. Thursday.