For the first time in 10 years, Houston women’s basketball has started off the season 3-1 after a 61-59 victory over Stephen F. Austin on Friday night at Fertitta Center.
The Cougars’ defense was stifling all game, holding a Ladyjacks offense that entered the contest averaging 75 points to just 59 points.
The full-court press that gave Auburn problems in UH’s last contest worked well against SFA, as the Cougars forced seven first quarter turnovers.
Offensively, the UH women’s basketball team was without its leading scorer in sophomore guard Britney Onyeje, but that proved to be no issue as sophomore guard Miya Crump made her first career start stepped up big time.
Crump got off to a fast start, scoring 10 first quarter points including two 3-pointers.
But turnovers were an issue for the Cougars, as they committed 13 in the first half which allowed SFA to keep things close.
At the end of the first half, the Cougars led by just two as neither team could gain any real traction in the game. The largest lead from both teams was just seven.
The two teams continued to go back in forth for the entire second half but a pair of late 3-pointers from Crump and another from fifth year senior guar Eryka Sidney helped the Cougars hold on to the lead late.
Another big story was that the UH women’s basketball team controlled the boards on both ends of the floor, outrebounding SFA 46 to 32, which allowed the Cougars to score 13 second-chance points while preventing the Ladyjacks from creating extra offensive possessions.
Junior forward Tatyana Hill tied her career-high with 15 rebounds to go along with her 10 points as she notched her first double-double of the season. Sophomore forward Bria Patterson pulled in a season-high 10 rebounds.
After the game, head coach Hughey praised the girls’ hustle and efforts on the boards.
“Our goal was to win those 50-50 balls and outrebound them,” Hughey said on the postgame Zoom. “We wanted to be able to take the opportunity to exhibit great toughness on going to the glass and getting those rebounds, so 46 is really great for us.”
Along with Hill’s big night controlling the glass, she was also all over the floor on the defensive end, drawing three charges and blocking three shots.
But nothing was bigger than Hill’s performance in the final seconds of the game, as she was able to tip an SFA pass that resulted in a UH steal to seal a 61-59 victory.
Crump, who dealt with an ankle injury during the game, finished with a team-high 16 points to go along with three rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Junior guard Dymond Gladney, who played a team-high 37 minutes, finished with nine points and five rebounds.
With the strong start to the season, Hughey emphasized the importance of moving forward and not staying fixated on the past as UH approaches conference play, which begins Dec. 16 when it hosts Cincinnati.
“It’s tremendously important for us to have a short-term memory because 3-1 can turn into 3-3 really quick going into conference play,” Hughey said. “We’re trying to have a short-term memory and just stay focused on all the little things.”