Poor shooting catches up with UH
A night after playing with fire and allowing UTEP to trim an 18-point lead to two before finally pulling out a second-round win in the Conference USA Tournament, UH was burned by UAB.
The Cougars fell, 70-65, in a hard-fought but sloppy game Wednesday at Reynolds Center in Tulsa, Okla.
Unlike Tuesday night, when UH rushed out to a big lead and held it until UTEP made their run late in the second half, UAB overcame an early eight-point deficit by the 7:39 mark of the first half.
After that, UH simply did everything it could to keep pace.
The Cougars benefited from a balanced scoring attack, as four players scored in double figures. Lesslee Mason led the charge with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
UH was outshot from the field 41.8 percent to 38.6, and it was nearly lapped in points off turnovers (19-10).
But the Cougars’ aggressiveness, which netted them 21 free-throw attempts, kept them in the game.
Similar to Tuesday’s game against UTEP, the Cougars rushed out to lead with strong rebounding and hustle. A 3-pointer by Brittney Scott got UH going. Back-to-back layups by Brittany Mason and Lesslee Mason, along with a flurry of foul shots, helped the Cougars grab their largest lead of the night, 16-8, with 12:42 left before halftime.
But the poor shooting that almost doomed the Cougars against UTEP contributed to their downfall in the remaining minutes of the first half. Their lead dissolved as their shooting percentage for the half eventually dropped to 31.3 percent.
Down by seven at the half, UH again used a flurry of 3s, steals and layups to retake the lead, 44-43, on a Courtney Taylor jumper with 12:58 left in the second half.
Until UAB’s Amber Jones made a pair of free throws with six seconds left gave the Blazers the five-point lead, neither team had led by more than four points for the remainder of the game.
Over that span of time, UH and UAB exchanged the lead eight times, as neither squad wanted to see its season end this early.
The aggressiveness that kept UH in the game in the first half continued in the second, as the Cougars outshot the Blazers at the line 11-4. UH also found their shot after halftime, going 12-of-25 for 48 percent.
But it was not enough to counter UAB’s strong bench performance, led by Jones’ 13 points and Jala Harris’ 12. In the second half, the Blazers’ bench contributed 15 points, while the Cougars’ bench didn’t score.
Short of an unexpected selection to the NIT, Wednesday’s loss will likely conclude a promising but inconsistent season for the Cougars.