Feb. 19, 2014
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--- Sophomore guard Marche' Amerson went for a career-high 23 points, and the Cougars trailed No. 3 Louisville by just 11 points with under 18 minutes to play in the game, but in the end the Cardinals managed to defeat Houston, 81-62, Wednesday night at the KFC Yum! Center.
Amerson played all 40 minutes and connected on a game-high and season-high equaling three treys on the evening, while sophomore guard Jessieka Palmer turned in a gutsy performance off the bench, as she scored 16 points, for her best scoring outing since also putting up 16 points way back on Nov. 13 at Northwestern State.
Senior center Yasmeen Thompson led Houston in rebounding for the 14th time in the last 20 games, as she pulled down a game-high tying eight boards, while chipping in five points and recording two steals.
Sophomore forward Tyler Gilbert provided a spark off the bench for the Cougars, as she poured in eight points, recorded six rebounds, and notched a game-high and career-high tying three blocks in 21 minutes of action.
Sara Hammond led the way for Louisville (26-2, 14 The American), as she poured in a team-high 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting for the game, while Shoni Schimmel dropped in 15 points and pulled down a team-best eight rebounds in the win, while eclipsing the 2,000 point mark for her career.
Things didn't look good for Houston (5-21, 1-14 The American) early, as the Cardinals scored literally just five seconds into the ballgame, while eventually taking a 13-3 advantage with 14:33 remaining in the first half.
But the underdog Cougars refused to back down, as Palmer came up with back-to-back three-balls to quite a hostile crowd of 7,408, and bring Houston within 13-9 with 13:42 left in the half.
The two treys, eventually jumpstarted, what turned into a 12-4 run to bring the Cougars within 17-15 with 10:27 left in the contest.
The Cards did their best to try and pull away once again, but Amerson connected on one of her three treys on the night to cut the deficit down to just 24-22 with 7:45 left in the half.
The two sides continued their sparring match over the next three-plus minutes of action, as the Cougars took every Louisville punch, and responded with a shot of their own, as Houston was very much in the game, trailing just 27-24 with 4:28 remaining in the half, after Gilbert knocked down two free throws.
Before the two free throws, Amerson and Palmer had combined to score 20 of Houston's 22 points in the contest, and the Cougars eventually went into the halftime break down a manageable margin of 38-27.
The Cougars received 14 first half points from their bench, while they scored nine points off of six forced turnovers.
Houston trailed by just nine points at the break the last time these two squads met on Jan. 21 at Hofheinz Pavilion, but unlike the last meeting, the Cougars didn't go away.
The Cardinals scored the first three points of the second half to balloon their lead to 14, but Houston came right back to cut it down to a 42-31 deficit with 17:49 left in the game, after Palmer took it all the way to the basket for the score.
Once again the Cardinals tried to blow it open, after Bria Smith nailed a jumper to make it a 51-33 ballgame with 15:20 remaining, but the Cougars responded as they had done all night, and put together a mini 9-4 scoring run to close the gap to 55-42 with 10:32 remaining.
But in the end, Louisville showed why its one of the best teams in college basketball, eventually taking control of the game, at one point working its lead to as high as 26 points, before the Cougars closed the contest on a 12-5 scoring run to whittle it down to the final margin of 19 points.
The Houston reserves combined for 28 points on the night, which was the most scoring the Cougar bench had produced since scoring 29 points on Jan. 29 at USF.
The Cougars now prepare to take on their second top-five opponent in a span of three days, as they return home to host No. 1 UConn, Saturday at 4:00 p.m. CT inside Hofheinz Pavilion.