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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Sports

Defense powers UH women’s basketball to win over Auburn in home opener


Sophomore guard Britney Onyeje lit it up from downtown against Auburn, scoring 15 points on five 3-pointers during the UH women's basketball team's 71-61 victory Saturday afternoon at Fertitta Center. | Courtesy of UH athletics

Sophomore guard Britney Onyeje lit it up from downtown against Auburn, scoring 15 points on five 3-pointers during the UH women’s basketball team’s 71-61 victory Saturday afternoon at Fertitta Center. | Courtesy of UH athletics

The UH women’s basketball team’s defense was all over the court in its 71-61 win against the Auburn Tigers on Saturday at Fertitta Center.

After starting off the season 1-1, defeating Oklahoma in its season opener but falling to Alabama a few days later, Houston faced its third straight major-conference opponent in Auburn.

The Cougars gave up a staggering 173 points through their first two games, but Houston’s defense set the tone from the opening tip.

UH conceded just nine points and forced a whopping ten turnovers in the first quarter.

The Tigers couldn’t find an answer to the Cougars full-court press all game as eight Cougars recorded at least one steal.

Houston’s defense held the Tigers to just 17 points on 24 percent shooting percentage in the first half.

After the game, Houston head coach Ronald Hughey said he drilled into his players to “dictate and disrupt” the play on defense, and that is exactly what the Cougars did.

“We’re not going to be a team that allows you to operate the same offense that you guys do in practice,” Hughey said. “We want to have an opportunity to put you in a place where you’re uncomfortable.”

On the offensive side of the ball, the Cougars got it going shooting from behind the arc.

Junior Dymond Gladney and sophomores Miya Crump and Britney Onyeje each hit multiple three-pointers to lead Houston’s offensive attack.

Gladney, who entered the contest 0-6 from 3-point range, emphasized how good it felt to knock down some deep balls after the game.

“That felt great,” Gladney said. “I was in a shooting slump for the first two games. So just seeing the ball go through the net really helped boost my confidence. I know I can shoot it, it was just a matter of when it was going to start falling for me.”

Despite Houston’s commanding 34-17 lead at halftime, Auburn mounted a second half comeback behind senior forward Unique Thompson, who finished with 26 points and 23 rebounds.

After the game, head coach Ronald Hughey said she might be the best post player the
Cougars face all season.

“(Thompson’s) efficient,” Hughey said. “She knows her bread and butter is around the rim and rebounding, and that’s what she lives with.”

But Houston was able to withstand the Tigers’ comeback effort to secure a 10-point victory led by Gladney’s 18 points.

Onyeje finished with 15 points, and junior Daphane White finished with 10 points and seven rebounds.

Senior Julia Blackshell-Fair led Houston with seven assists.

This victory marked Houston’s second win over a major-conference team in its first three games.

“It’s just the beginning” for what is to come for the program,” Gladney said after the game.

Hughey echoed Gladney, saying how proud he was of his team and the direction the
program is headed.

“Everybody talks about being good. We got to move the needle to being great,” Hughey said. “I thought we made a huge step in that direction today.”

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