March 4, 2005
Game 7: No. 3 Houston 76, No. 6 Charlotte 73 (OT)
Third-seeded Houston overcame a 13-point halftime deficit to survive a scare from sixth-seed Charlotte and advance to the semifinals of the Pepsi Conference USA Women's Basketball Tournament with a 76-73 overtime win. Reserve guard Daphne Andre scored 18 points, but none were bigger than her three pointer in the extra session that gave the Cougars a four-point advantage with just over a minute to play.
Charlotte cut the lead to 75-73 after a Pam Brown stick back and had a chance to tie or win the game after Lyttle missed a jumper on the other end. The senior made up for her miss though as she tied up Brown down low forcing a jump ball with the possession arrow favoring Houston. The Cougars made just one free throw after Joann Overstreet was fouled, but a desperation three from just inside half court was off target securing the win for Houston.
"I don't know if we deserved to win and I don't know if Charlotte deserved to lose, but that was one heck of a ball game," Houston head coach Joe Curl said. "From a basketball standpoint, we didn't match their energy. We got after some balls, took some charges and did just enough to stay within striking distance."
Houston forward Sancho Lyttle, a member of the All-C-USA first team, scored a tournament high 31 points in the victory. The Cougars will play the winner of the No. 2 Louisville-No. 7 Marquette contest at 4:30 p.m. in Saturday's second semifinal at Halton Arena. Charlotte guard Sakellie Daniels scored 21 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out eight assists in the loss, which was just the second for the 49ers on their home court this season.
Houston opened the second half outscoring the 49ers 29-8 in the first 10 minutes. Lyttle and Andre sparked the spurt, which allowed the Cougars to take their first lead since holding a 4-3 advantage with 18:24 to play in the opening half. The duo accounted for 22 of the 29 points during the run that gave Houston a 61-53 advantage.
The 49ers quickly answered with a 9-2 run to get right back in the game and cut the Cougars' lead to just one. Daniels had six points during the run that set up the best finish during the 2005 tournament. Charlotte forward Andrea Davidson sank her second three pointer of the half with 1:24 remaining to knot the game at 69.
Each team had its chance to win the game in the final minute, but Davidson' three pointer ended up forcing the first overtime in the tournament since the 2003 championship game between TCU and Cincinnati.
Both teams struggled from the free throw line as Charlotte made just 12-of-21 (57.1 percent) and Houston connected on just 16-of-26 attempts (61.5 percent).
The 49ers raced out to a 22-9 lead in the opening 7:57 behind an energetic home crowd. Senior guard Monica League led the way with 11 of those points as she connected on 3-of-4 three pointers. However, Pledge was one of two players to be whistled for three fouls in the opening half. Houston's Shannon Steele also picked up a trio of fouls in a half that saw the teams combine for 25 infractions.
After trailing by as many as 15 points in the first half, Houston cut the lead to four at 30-26 after reeling off a 14-3 run during a six-minute span. Lyttle had 13 in the first half. With Pledge on the bench in foul trouble, Charlotte still managed to close the half on a 15-6 run to take a 13-point lead into the lockerroom. Daniels lifted the 49ers with five points during the closing run as she finished with 12 first-half points.
Houston, the 2004 C-USA tournament champion, has now reached the semifinals in four of the last five years. Jasmin Moore was the third Cougar to reach double figures as she made 4-of-10 three pointers to finish with 12 points.
Daniels attempted 15 foul shots, which is the second most in a tournament game. Daniels holds the record with 18, which she set last season in a victory over East Carolina. Charlotte held a 38-32 advantage in rebounds.