Women's Basketball

Cougars sweat out victory over UTEP

Roxanna Button (22) provided her usual spark of the bench, scoring eight points in UH’s 57-55 victory over UTEP in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA tournament. UH moves on to face UAB at 6:30 p.m. today. | Yulia Kutsenkova/The Daily Cougar

The Cougars made their Conference USA Tournament second-round matchup against UTEP more interesting than necessary, but ultimately made enough plays down the stretch to secure a 57-55 victory Tuesday.

The win advances UH (17-13) to the semifinals, where it will face UAB (16-14) at 6:30 p.m. today at the Donald W. Reynolds Center in Tulsa, Okla. The Blazers advanced after knocking off SMU, 64-45, on Tuesday.

As has been the case for much of the season, junior forward Courtney Taylor led the Cougars with a game-high 14 points and a team-high 11 rebounds.

Unfortunately for Taylor and her teammates, Tuesday’s win was anything but a sure thing in the closing minutes. After building an 11-point halftime advantage, UH fell victim to an inopportune scoring drought that saw its 48-30 lead with 12:53 remaining whittled to two points with seven minutes left to play.

The Miners took a 50-49 lead on Briana Green’s jumper with 2:56 left, but the Cougars outscored UTEP 8-5 from there to close out the game and keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive.

The Cougars head into tonight’s matchup with the Blazers filled with optimism, as they knocked off UAB 63-62 on Jan. 24 in Birmingham, Ala. At the same time, UAB boasts a talented 1-2 scoring punch in Jala Harris and Tamika Dukes, who are averaging 16 and 13 points per game, respectively.

The winner of tonight’s game will face the winner of the Tulane-East Carolina contest for the league title and a bid to March Madness at 12:30 p.m. Friday.

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