Coogs try to put loss behind them
The Cougars will face in-town rival Rice for the first time this season after dropping a tough one to SMU at Hofheinz Pavilion on Saturday.
The Cougars (10-10, 4-3 Conference USA) built a 13-point lead in the first half via hot shooting from the perimeter, but cooled off in the second half and lost 74-67. The loss stole the momentum of their two-game winning streak, which included a gritty road win over a UAB who previously had been undefeated in conference play.
Inconsistent play has been a recurring theme for the Cougars, and again it was their downfall against the Mustangs. Forward Brittany Mason said the team lacked the necessary energy to compete.
“I feel we lost our intensity,” Mason said. “We were dead the second half. They pretty much took over the game, and at some point we felt like we fell back. We were able to get back in it, but it was too late.”
The Cougars should not lack motivation when they take the court against the Rice Owls 7 p.m. today at Tuder Fieldhouse.
The history between the two teams is one-sided, with UH leading the series 37-7. However, Mason said facing Rice is always hard fought, regardless of how both teams are playing.
“It’s always intense, it doesn’t matter if Rice is good or not,” Mason said. “It’s always going to be an intense game no matter who is in what position in the rankings.”
The Owls are coached by Greg Williams, who has a career record of 68-79 in five seasons with the Owls. In his first two seasons, the Owls made an appearance in the C-USA Championship and WNIT.
Williams also has a connection to UH. He was the Cougars’ head coach in the late 1980s. In the 1987-88 season UH went 22-7, cracked their first top-20 ranking and appearing in the NCAA tournament. Williams was named the Southwest Conference Coach of the Year.
This season the Owls (10-10, 4-3 C-USA), like the Cougars, have been inconsistent, but have had quality wins against Marshall, SMU and East Carolina. They rank last in the conference in field goal percentage, but excel in other areas.
Rice is first in the conference in free-throw percentage, shooting 74 percent. The Owls also rank second in the conference in rebounding at 41.8 per game and first in defensive rebounding.
Mason said the key to the game will be limiting their own mistakes.
“We just got to play defense the way we know we can. We can’t have any frustration fouls, and we need to be in help defense because that can limit cheap fouls we always give up,” Taylor said.
If they can also keep their intensity up for the full 40 minutes, the Cougars should be in good position to get back above .500. After tonight’s game, the Cougars have eight regular-season games remaining.