Women's Basketball

Living up to the height

Senior forward Yasmeen Thompson’s inside presence has provided both the backbone on defense and athleticism on offense. | Aisha Bouderdaben/The Daily Cougar

Yasmeen Thompson’s teammates call her “pineapple head” because when she pulls her dreads up, it resembles the fruit.

“It’s probably because she’s got an odd-shaped head,” said interim head coach Wade Scott.

But for those who have watched the senior forward on the court, including Scott, her play is anything but fruitless.

The Cougars are one of the shortest teams in the American Athletic Conference, but Thompson’s six-foot-two frame, intangibles and athleticism have aided the Cougars on both sides of the ball. The Cougars hope Thompson’s frame helps her team get its first conference victory on Tuesday against Temple.

Thompson was named to the AAC honor roll for the second consecutive week after averaging 10.5 points and nine rebounds in the team’s recent two-game road trip against South Florida and Central Florida, a game in which she had a season-high four steals.

Thompson said she has seen improvement in her game versus last season. “I feel I’ve gotten a lot better at scoring when defenders are on me.”

The Cougars found themselves down by as many as 21 against Central Florida, but closed the gap to five before losing. Thompson scored eight points during the attempted comeback, getting inside the paint and finding easy scoring opportunities.

“She really gets us those energy points that we need,” said senior forward Te’Onna Campbell. “We’re not that tall as a team, so she really helps us out when it comes to matchups. She makes it happen for us in the paint.”

She’s the Cougars’ last line of defense.

“A lot of us are athletic, but she really gives us that length. If one of the (opponent’s) players drives to the basket, not only can one of our girls take a charge, but YT (her other nickname) can go in and block the shot,” Campbell said.

Thompson doesn’t speak a lot, as she prefers to let her play do the talking, providing an inside presence that can transpire into wins.

“She’s not one of those players who will say very much, but at the end of the day, she’ll have like 10 points and 10 rebounds,” Scott said. “She’s just one of those quiet leaders, one of those kids who leads by example.”

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