Houston begins conference play with 75-65 win over Memphis
The Cougars opened American Athletic Conference play strong as the team defeated the Tigers 75-65 on Sunday afternoon at Fertitta Center.
Both teams opened the game up hot offensively as the teams traded buckets throughout most of the first quarter. At about 2:30 minute mark remaining in the first quarter, the teams were tied at 16.
The Cougars finished the opening period strong. Sophomore Dymond Gladney, who had a team-high seven points in the quarter, hit a 3-pointer to put Houston up 19-16. Houston then capitalized on a Memphis turnover as junior Julia Blackshell-Fair converted a 3-point play via a layup and free-throw.
After one quarter, the Cougars led 22-18.
The second quarter was like the first as both teams went back and forth trading baskets, but it was the Cougars defense that allowed them to hold onto their lead as they forced the Tigers to commit nine turnovers in the period.
Due to its defense and its ability to convert turnovers into points, Houston carried a 39-33 lead into the locker room.
The Cougars came out of halftime and immediately increased their lead when sophomore Tatyana Hill scored six quick points to open the quarter. Four minutes into the third period, Houston led 50-39.
Memphis, however, responded with a 7-0 run over the next 2 minutes, 30 seconds of game time to cut Houston’s lead down to four.
The Cougars answered back, however, led by senior Dorian Branch, who scored five points over the final few minutes of the third quarter, and the team carried a 59-50 lead into the fourth quarter.
Memphis opened the first five minutes of the final period with a 7-2 run, and it cut Houston’s lead to 61-57 halfway through the fourth.
Once again, the Cougars responded. Gladney and Branch hit back-to-back 3-pointers to increase Houston’s lead to 10.
Memphis then played the foul game to extend the game, but Branch and Blackshell-Fair came up clutch, combining to go 6-7 from the free-throw line down the stretch to help Houston secure a 75-65 win.
Overall, the Cougars played well on both sides of the ball. Offensively, the Cougars got everyone involved and had four players score double digits. Blackshell-Fair led the way with 19 points followed by Gladney and Branch, who both scored 18, and Hill, who scored 14.
Defensively, the Cougars forced 24 turnovers as the team finished with 11 steals.
With the win, the Cougars improve to 8-7 on the season and begin conference play with a win. Houston returns to action Wednesday when they take on Temple at 7 p.m. in Fertitta Center.