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Sunday, January 16, 2022

Women's Basketball

Cougars ready for familiar foes

After beating every team in Conference USA, guard Brittney Scott and the Cougars will attempt to run the table twice. | Aaron Cisneros/The Daily Cougar

Winners of their last 16 games, the red-hot Cougars look to continue their dominance as the No. 1 seed in the Conference USA Tournament.

UH will be matched up with UTEP, the host team of the tournament.

After guiding UH to a first-round bye, C-USA Coach of the Year Todd Buchanan and the Cougars will look to repeat what they have done once before this season: conquer C-USA.

Buchanan’s confidence is justified — his team was only the second to ever go through C-USA undefeated in the regular season.

“We’ll prepare for whatever we need to prepare for,” Buchanan said. “It’s all about execution, poise and heart at this point more than it is about the Xs and Os. We’ll do our due diligence and tweak whatever we need to tweak.

“We need to win no matter what. We have to come out and fight, be ready to play and win basketball games.”

Look no further than senior forward Courtney Taylor — the reigning two-time C-USA Player of the Year, and C-USA Defensive Player of the Year. Buchanan calls Taylor his “double-double machine.”

Versatility to boast

For good reason, UH is considered the Goliath of the tournament, and anything short of a C-USA crown will be deemed a disappointment.

Buchanan said he feels that with so much depth and multi-talented players on this squad, this incarnation of the Cougars is like a Swiss Army knife of sorts.

“I think we’re really in a good spot right now,” Buchanan said. “We’re so versatile because Courtney can play guard. Obviously Brittany Mason already plays guard but if we want to go small and really athletic we’ll throw her in a post-forward four spot. Lesslee can also handle the basketball. Jasmine (Johnson) stepped up (against Rice) as she’s done all season. We’re really a hybrid of an all guard-forward team.”

Miners provide ample competition

Though the Cougars (25-4, 16-0 Conference USA) blew by many of their opponents en route to 25 regular season victories, 16 of those wins came by 10 or more, UH will be not be a shoe-in win, as the Miners will have the homecourt advantage on their side.

UTEP (16-13, 7-9) won in convincing fashion Wednesday, crushing SMU 75-57 to advance to the second round.

In the previous meeting, the Cougars beat UTEP 77-61 at home on Feb. 20 to win the regular-season C-USA title.

Before that, UH weathered the Miners’s come back attempt and pulled out a 70-62 victory on Jan. 16 at the Don Haskins Center.

If the Cougars beat the Miners they will play the winner of the No. 4-seeded Tulane and No. 5 seed East Carolina. ECU advanced after beating Tulsa 71-62 in the first round Wednesday. The Pirates and Tulane tip off before the UH game at 6 p.m.

As the season has progressed, the Cougars have not been cocky, but are sure of themselves.

“We go in with a lot of confidence,” Buchanan said. “We have a lot of swagger and not in an arrogant way, but they’re hungry. “We don’t hide from anything. I don’t portray myself to be a Rex Ryan guy, but I’m not afraid to talk about it either.

“We know who we are, what we have and we know what we have to do to be successful.”

The game tips off at 8:30 p.m. tonight at the Memorial Gym in El Paso.

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