UH will host Rice at 7 p.m. today at Hofheinz Pavilion in the teams’ regular-season finale.
The Cougars (15-13, 9-6 C-USA) look to improve on their latest success. They defeated Conference USA frontrunner Tulane 72-64 in their last outing and are in the midst of a two-game win streak.
Head coach Joe Curl recently returned to the sidelines for the Cougars after a five-game absence. Curl had been hospitalized following what a UH Athletics press release described as “heart-related health concerns.” He said Tuesday that he is feeling much better.
Curl attributes the Cougars success to their bench.
“Our major success is our depth,” Curl said. “The players from the bench have to take on scoring, defense and rebounding in order for us to be successful.”
UH will look to the trio of forward Courtney Taylor and guards Brittney Scott and Porsche Landry to lead today’s attack. Taylor, who scored 20 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in UH’s last meeting against Rice, was named C-USA Player of the Week on Monday and is averaging 15.5 points and 9.9 rebounds this season. It was her third Player of the Week selection this season.
The Owls (13-15, 7-8) have not been as impressive of late. Before Saturday’s 74-54 win over UTEP, Rice had lost four of its previous five games.
In the teams’ previous meeting Feb. 4, UH topped Rice 72-53 at Tudor Fieldhouse, but coach Curl knows that another victory is not a given.
“Rice has a very good team,” Curl said. “In the last game, I felt that it was closer than the score would have suggested.”
Rice is led in scoring by forward Jackie Stanley and guard D’Frantz Smart. Curl mentioned Smart as one of the players to watch out for.
“They run their offense through her and spread the ball around,” Curl said. “We’re going to have to get in front of her and make sure that she can’t pass through us.”
The UH-Rice rivalry will take center stage, as both teams will be playing for bragging rights. Rice will try to avenge its home loss to UH, and both teams want to finish their season on a high note. Being near the bottom of conference standings, Rice will be playing mostly for pride.
UH sits at fourth. With a victory Thursday and losses by Memphis and SMU, the Cougars could finish as high as second place, putting them in a strong position to contend in the C-USA tournament, which begin March 8 in Tulsa, Okla.