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Sunday, September 24, 2023

Women's Basketball

UH grinds out a victory against Memphis

Te'onna Campbell drives to the hoop and gets an easy shot attempt.  |  Rebekah Stearns

Junior forward Te’onna Campbell drives to the hoop and gets an easy shot attempt. | Rebekah Stearns

The Cougars (6-7) came up with some clutch offensive plays in the latter moments of the contest, prevailing in a 77-74 victory against Memphis. The win gave the Cougars a 1-0 start to conference play.

With the first victory in conference up for grabs, the Cougars and Tigers both clawed their way through the tight game.

In the opening minutes, both teams were trading baskets as neither could break away. With about twelve minutes left in the half, the Tigers went on a 7-0 run to take a 18-14 lead. After a timeout, the Cougars responded aggressively; forced turnovers and offensively picking up the pace translated into easy points as the Cougars went on a 17-4 run to take a 31-22 lead with less than five minutes remaining before the break.

Senior guard Porsche Landry sparked the Cougar offense, pushing the ball in the open court and finding her teammates for easy buckets.

The Tigers couldn’t stop the Cougars transition offense, said head coach Todd Buchanan.

“Our transition was our best offense at times, and that was something we wanted to put in our game plan,” Buchanan said.

The Tigers narrowed the Cougar lead to one with a 10-2 run to close the half.

“We just lacked on defense, we weren’t getting back and had to make some adjustments at halftime,” Landry said.

Buchanan said the Cougars struggled with Landry on the bench.

“When she’s not in the game, we lose our way of how aggressive we want to play and how much we want to push the basketball in transition,” Buchanan said.

Senior Memphis forward Nicole Dickson, the Conference USA leading scorer averaging 20.7 points per game, came alive in the second half and scored a quick seven points to lead her team on a 9-4 run in only three minutes. The Cougars countered with an 8-0 run. Freshman guard Alecia Smith sank two more 3-pointers, along with a jumper from junior forward Te’onna Campbell to take the lead 48-44.

With the game tied at 59 with just less than five minutes in the game, junior forward Marissa Ashton stepped up and put in five straight points, the only Cougar bench points.

“Bench play is big. We need the bench to score. When the starters come out, we don’t want to lose (the lead),” Landry said. “They just got to be ready when their number is called.”

The game came down to the final seconds as freshman guard Ariel Hearn missed a 3-pointer.

Landry flirted with a triple-double for the second consecutive game with 23 points, nine assists and eight rebounds.

Buchanan said he was proud of the team, but getting better as a ball club is critical.

“We got a long way to go. We’re a young basketball team, but I’ll tell you what, we’re really gritty and we grinded it out for the entire game,” Buchanan said. “I thought in particularly the second half, we got hungry and our pursuit of the basketball was a lot better.”

“We just (need) to be better with the basketball. We felt we had so many missed opportunities and need to make the most of our possessions. We also need to focus on the obviousness of the free-throw shooting.”

The Cougars will be on the road for the next two games against UAB and Marshall. They will play Southern Miss at 7 p.m. Jan. 24 at Hofheinz Pavilion.

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