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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Sports

Women’s basketball keeps ship afloat without star player


Jasmyne Harris has not played in five straight games. The Cougars have performed well despite her absence, but UH is still awaiting her return. | Kathryn Lenihan/ The Cougar

The Cougar’s slow start to the season took an additional blow when the team lost junior guard Jasmyne Harris to a suspension. But instead of folding, the Cougars have won four of their last five games in Harris’ absence.

Numerous factors have contributed to the team’s hot streak.

First is the increased performances of junior forward Dorian Branch and senior forward Octavia Barnes.

Branch has been one of the main contributors to the team’s effort all season, but recently she has been called upon to do more for the team. She responded to the call with her second 20-point game in her career, a double-double and an average of 11.6 points per game in the five games since Harris’ suspension.

Barnes has contributed by leading the team with an average of 12.2 points per game during the stretch. She has also gotten at least one steal and four rebounds in each game since Harris has been away.

Both Branch and Barnes have been vital to the Cougars’ success. They will have to continue their production to keep the ship upright while waiting for their captain to return. Fortunately for them, they still have help from other key crew members.

Senior guard Serithia Hawkins has been one of the most important pieces to the Cougars’ success in recent years. She has led the team in total rebounds since she arrived as a freshman. She has continued her success on the boards this season and is also the third-leading scorer on the team.

Hawkins, Barnes and Branch have formed a potent trio while Harris has been out. But while the team waits for Jasmyne Harris to return, it will have to wait also for the return of Angela Harris’ scoring.

Junior guard Angela Harris had a breakout season last year as the second star of the team. She was second in scoring and total assists, and she was also one of the AAC’s best defensive players. This year, she’s struggled to average double-digit scoring and has more turnovers than assists.

Harris is not the only one struggling, as the team seems to have hit a collective slump to begin the season, but the team has found ways to win despite the lack of production.

Harris still shows flashes of her prior form. She had 23 points, five assists and three steals in a win against Wichita State on the road. But the team will need her to be more consistent in order to stay near the top of the conference.

The Cougars find themselves ranked No. 4 in the conference with a chance to climb. UH has a better record on the road than at home, and the team plays three of its next four games away from Houston.

UH must pick up some key wins while Jasmyne Harris is out. If the team keeps riding its hot hands, then the Cougars will have a good chance of keeping themselves near the top of the conference.

The Cougars will need to bring this momentum with them when Harris returns. Once she does, UH will be in position to go on a run in the second half of the season and the AAC Tournament.

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