Weekend recap: Football shakeup, both basketball teams compete
It was a tough weekend for Cougar athletics as they suffered not only losses on the court and gridiron, but also on the coaching staff.
Former head football coach Tom Herman stole headlines early Saturday when it was announced that he would become the next head football coach for the University of Texas Longhorns.
The announcement came less than 24 hours after the football team suffered their third loss of the season to the University of Memphis Tigers. In addition to football, both the men’s and women’s basketball teams saw action.
Amid a swirl of rumors over the holiday break of their head coach potentially departing for another school, the Cougars took the field looking to post back-to-back double-digit win seasons.
Their efforts were in vain as the team fell to the Memphis Tigers, 48-44, despite a heroic comeback in the second half.
The Cougars entered the locker room at halftime trailing 34-17, but managed to tighten up the defense in the second half.
Junior wide receiver Linell Bonner III caught a career high 17 passes for 245 yards and a touchdown.
Senior quarterback Greg Ward Jr. ended his regular season career on a high note by completing 47-of-67 passes for 487 yards and a touchdown. Ward also was a ground threat by netting 65 yards on 16 carries Friday.
The Cougar offense tallied 624 yards, which gives them five games this season with at least 500 yards of total offense.
The comeback fell short when the Cougars allowed Memphis quarterback Riley Ferguson to find wide receiver Andrew Miller in the end zone and give the Tigers a lead with just 19 seconds to play.
The Cougars are off to another tough start to a season as the team dropped a fourth consecutive game by way of a 64-60 loss to Mercer University Friday.
Head coach Ronald Hughey’s team is now 1-4 on the season following a 6-24 finish a year ago.
Despite the loss, junior guard Serithia Hawkins continued her impressive start to the season. Hawkins recorded her second consecutive double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Hawkins is now averaging 8.6 points per game and is the team leader in rebounds at 9.4 per game.
Free throws proved to be the difference in the loss as the Cougars went just 3-for-15 from the foul line. As a team, the Cougars are shooting just .517 on free throws, which is among the worst marks in the nation.
Following the game, Hughey said that the team was well-prepared, but struggled with the fundamentals against Mercer.
The team will look to snap their losing streak when they take on the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in a road tilt on Wednesday.
After a first-place finish in the Gulf Coast Showcase Wednesday, the Cougars returned to Hofheinz Pavilion, where they dominated Cornell University’s Big Red 83-53 to improve to 5-0 on the season.
This one was never in doubt as the Cougars began the game on a 26-2 run and headed into the half with a 45-26 lead over Big Red.
Transfer forward Devin Davis continued his hot start with 18 points and 9 rebounds in the rout. Davis is third on the team in scoring at 12.9 points per game, and the team lead in rebounds at nine per game.
Third-year guard Rob Gray tallied 15 points, three assists and three steals in 31 minutes of action.
The Cougars have now started 5-0 for the second consecutive season.
Next up for men’s basketball is a 8 p.m. Tuesday matchup with Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Last season, the Cougars defeated the Tigers 105-98 in a game that went into overtime.