Sweet send-off for seniors
Senior Roxana Button set the tone for the Cougars (3-24, 2-13 Conference USA) during the first leg of the game with her early scoring, followed by Danielle Parks who carried UH to the finish line as they pulled away late and won 66-53 against UCF (12-15, 7-8) on Sunday.
It was the last game at Hofheinz Pavilion for Button and fellow senior Michelle White, who were both honored before the game. But Parks, who scored 24 points, stole the show.
Parks wanted to win so that her teammates would go out on top.
“I wanted it for them,” Parks said.
“I wanted them to know how it feels to win their last senior game on their home court.”
UH found a way to overcome the emotions of Senior Day and thwart comeback attempts by UCF.
“I feel like … the epitome of today and just full circle was (how) we played to win the basketball game today,” head coach Todd Buchanan said.
UCF opened the second half by doubling Button and it stymied the Cougars’ offense.
After two Button turnovers and three UCF buckets, UH trailed 41-38 with 11:45 remaining.
Button responded with three assists that opened up the UH offense and swapped the momentum.
Button’s dish to Parks out of a corner trap for a straightaway 3-pointer gave UH a 45-41 lead.
UH never again relinquished the lead and cruised to victory, ending their 12-game losing streak.
White was optimistic while continuing to compete in the last leg of their schedule.
“I think if we come with the same mindset that we did today, we can beat anybody on any given day,” she said.
Buchanan echoed White, who was the first recruit that he signed as a head coach at UH.
“We finally played together as a team,” Buchannan said.
“We finally caught that intensity and they really showed, and played like, for the first time, in my opinion, that they really cared about each other.”
Button and White exited the court with a tenth of a second left to a standing ovation from the crowd and an embrace from their head coach.