GREENVILLE, N.C. - The University of Houston women's basketball team rallied back from a 15-point second half deficit to take a late lead against East Carolina before eventually falling to the Pirates by a score of 83-77, Thursday night at Minges Coliseum.
Senior guard Roxana Button tied career highs with 30 points and five assists while grabbing a career-best eight rebounds in 40 minutes to lead the Cougars.
Houston trailed by nine at the break after a fast-paced first half, but quickly fell behind by 15 points in the opening three minutes of the second half.
With the Cougars trailing by 12, freshman forward Amanda Lawson knocked down a 3-pointer to bring Houston back within single digits and Button followed with an old fashioned three-point play two minutes later to cut the deficit to seven points.
Two free-throws from Button pushed Houston within three points with 8:07 left to play before freshman guard Danielle Parks picked up where she left off in the opening half, draining back-to-back 3-point buckets to give the Cougars a 63-62 lead with 7:48 remaining.
With the score knotted at 64 points apiece, East Carolina connected on its ninth trifecta of the contest with 7:09 left to play and the Cougars wouldn't convert another field goal until 59 seconds remaining.
Houston relied on six free-throws during the six-minute drought and trailed by only five with 37 seconds remaining when Lawson was called for a charge under the basket to put the contest away.
The Cougars shot a blazing 57 percent (13-of-23) from the field in the first half but were plagued by 15 turnovers, as the Pirates outscored Houston by a 20-5 margin in points off turnovers.
Houston quickly fell behind by a score of 16-4 to open the game as ECU knocked down four 3-pointers in just over three minutes.
The Cougars used a 9-0 run over a three-minute span to claw back into the contest and get back within four points.
After ECU converted its first field goal in over five minutes to stretch the lead back out to 11 points, Button and Parks connected on back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the deficit to five points with 9:25 remaining in the opening frame.
The Pirates would once again push their advantage to double-digits at 38-26 with 2:58 left, but a Button 3-point play would put the Cougars back within nine points at the break.
Button ended her career night shooting 10-of-26 from the field, 2-of-3 from long range and 8-of-11 from the charity stripe.
Parks tied a career high with 17 points off a perfect 5-of-5 effort from downtown. The Houston native dialed up huge shots the entire contest, knocking down back-to-back treys in the opening half to answer ECU's 3-pointers, while doing the same in the second half to give Houston a late lead.
Lawson also scored in double figures for Houston with 10 points to go with six rebounds. Lawson was 4-of-7 from the field and 2-of-4 from 3-point range.
Mae Woods posted eight points, six rebounds and three blocks in 34 minutes, while Michelle White added seven points, six assists and three steals in 39 minutes of action.
The Cougars shot 48 percent (26-of-54) from the field for the contest, while knocking down 10 3-pointers on 13 attempts (77 percent).
Houston finished the contest with 20 turnovers, but only had two miscues over the final 17 minutes of the game.
ECU shot 44 percent (28-of-64) from the field and drained nine 3-pointers on 25 attempts (36 percent), with only one trey coming in the final 20 minutes.
The Cougars return home to play host to Conference USA leader UTEP in the "Play 4 Kay" contest at 1 p.m., Sunday at Hofheinz Pavilion.