HOUSTON – The Houston Cougar Women’s Basketball team completed an incredible turnaround season, falling to South Dakota, 65-58, in the First Round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament on Thursday in Vermillion, S.D.
South Dakota opened the game on fire from beyond the 3-point line, hitting its first three shots, all from beyond the arc to take a 9-2 lead. The Cougars clawed their way back thanks to four straight points from Myyah West and a 3-pointer from Angela Harris, but the Coyotes closed the quarter on an 11-1 run to take a 22-10 advantage into the first intermission.
Both defenses took over in the second quarter, in a period where each team combined for just 23 points. South Dakota pushed the lead to 15 with a 3-pointer on the first possession of the quarter, but Houston answered with four straight from West and freshman Julia Blackshell-Fair, who made her first career start for the Cougars.
South Dakota pushed the lead back to 15 with four straight points, before the Cougars closed the half with a 10-2 run. Harris started the run with a bucket, before Dorian Branch followed with a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 10 at 29-19. After the Coyotes scored on the next possession, Branch added another bucket, before Blackshell-Fair closed the half with an old-fashioned, 3-point play to cut the deficit to 31-24.
The defensive theme would carry into the second half, and the Cougars would hold the Coyotes to just four points over the first seven minutes of the quarter to work their way back into the ballgame. Jaycee Bradley put South Dakota on the board first, but the Cougars would score eight of the next 11, all of which coming from Serithia Hawkins, to cut the deficit to four.
Hawkins opened the run with an old-fashioned 3-point play, before getting to the line on each of Houston’s next two scoring possessions. However, after a jumper from Hawkins cut the score to 36-32, South Dakota picked up back-to-back buckets from Chloe Lamb and Ciara Duffy, with Duffy’s counting for three, to extend the lead back to nine with 2:14 left in the quarter.
The offenses would come alive in the fourth quarter, a period that saw 44 total points, as the Cougars tried to work their way back into the ballgame. However, South Dakota would shoot 80 percent (8-of-10) from the field in the quarter to keep the game out of reach.
South Dakota would push the lead back to 15 at 53-38 with just 6:07 remaining, but the Cougars would use a charge to work their way back into the ballgame, scoring 10 of the next 14 points to cut the lead back to seven.
Harris started the run with a layup, before Mariah Mitchell followed with a layup of her own. On the next defensive possession, Hawkins forced a Coyote turnover and took it the other way for a coast-to-coast score to force a South Dakota timeout.
The Coyotes would stop the run on a layup from McKeever on the next possession, but Houston got back-to-back buckets from Harris and Blackshell-Fair to cut the score to 55-48 with 3:36 remaining. Houston would inch closer, cutting the lead to six at 59-53 with 1:26 left, but a technical foul called on the Cougars for touching the ball defensively on an inbounds play, resulted in a four-point possession for the Coyotes to put the game out of reach.
Score: South Dakota 65, Houston 58
Date: Thursday, March 15, 2018
Location: Vermillion, S.D. | Sanford Coyote Sports Center | WNIT First Round
Houston: The Cougars were led offensively and on the glass by Serithia Hawkins who scored a game-high 17 points and pulled down a career-best 16 rebounds to register her seventh double-double of the season and the 18th of her career. Angela Harris finished the game with 15 points, while Julia Blackshell-Fair added a career-high 11.
South Dakota: The Coyotes had four players reach double-figures in scoring, including a team-high 12 from Jaycee Bradley. Ciara Duffy finished the contest with 11 points, while Madison McKeever and Allison Arens each had 10. Arens paced the Coyotes with nine rebounds.
NEWS AND NOTES
- With the WNIT game, Houston made its first appearance in the postseason since the 2010-11 season. The WNIT bid was the fifth all-time for the Cougars, and they now hold a 5-6 record in the tournament.
- With 16 rebounds in the contest, Serithia Hawkins now has 722 in her career, moving her into sixth all-time on the Houston rebounding list. Hawkins passed Toni Mooney (1980-84; 707), Chandi Jones (2000-04; 714) and ShaRonda Lasseter (1997-01; 715) in the effort.
- Angela Harris made three 3-pointers in the contest, to give her 85 on the season. Harris finishes the year second on the all-time 3-pointers made in a season list.
- Houston outrebounded the Coyotes in the contest 46-34, and held a 17-8 advantage on the offensive glass. The 17 offensive rebounds led to an 11-3 advantage on second-chance points for Houston.
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