Houston defeats East Carolina to extend home winning streak
The women’s basketball team picked up its second straight win and fourth straight home win against the Pirates in a 63-52 battle Saturday afternoon at the Fertitta Center.
Houston had some sloppy play at times, but the squad was able to fend off East Carolina and break away in the final stretch.
ECU showcased a smothering defense early in the game led by senior Alex Frazier, who ended the game with four steals.
ECU had six steals in the first half alone, which allowed it to attack in the offensive transition and get easy points on the other end. All 10 of ECU’s points in the first quarter were scored within the paint.
Despite the strong defensive effort from ECU, Houston was able to maintain a lead in the first half with the help of an onslaught of three-pointers.
Houston started hot from the three-point line with senior Octavia Barnes and junior Dorian Branch both knocking down their first attempt on consecutive shots.
Branch would go on to shoot 3-for-5 from the three-point line, and she led all scorers with 21 points at the end of the game.
“I am really, really happy with where Dorian is right now offensively and defensively,” said head coach Ronald Hughey. “She’s the epitome of what we said about being ‘all-in.’”
Houston was able to create open shots in the half court by keeping the ball moving. Houston tallied 15 assisted buckets compared to ECU’s 11.
The best pass of the game came from junior Angela Harris in the third quarter on a cross-court bounce pass in transition to Branch, who finished the play with a strong layup at the other end. Harris led all players with four assists.
Houston controlled the game up until the third quarter when ECU was able to shoot 53 percent from the floor and bring the game within one point heading into the fourth quarter.
The Houston defense was led by senior Serithia Hawkins, who took over in the final quarter and allowed ECU to score just eight points to ice the game.
With 12 points and eight rebounds in the game, Hawkins became only the second Houston player ever to account for at least 1,000 points and 900 rebounds in their career.
“I can’t thank her enough. I am extremely proud of her,” Hughey said. “(She) had offers from SEC and Big 12 and came to Houston on the promise that we will make you into the best player that you can be if you come here.”
This loss marks East Carolina’s ninth loss on the road, bringing its away game record to 1-9 compared to a strong 10-3 at home. ECU is now at No. 11 in the American Athletic Conference.
With the win, Houston rises to a record of 13-11 on the season and secures the No. 4 spot in the AAC with a two-game lead over Tulane, which is ranked at No. 5. Houston’s next game is against Tulane Feb. 20 at the Fertitta Center.