NEW ORLEANS – The Houston Cougar women’s basketball team wrapped up the Preseason WNIT with a 78-66 win over New Orleans at Lakefront Arena, on Saturday.
New Orleans grabbed the lead early in the contest on a 3-pointer from Randi Brown, however it was quickly answered by sophomore Angela Harris with a 3-point bucket of her own, before sophomore Dorian Branch gave Houston its first lead of the game at 5-3. After New Orleans knocked down a pair of free throws to tie the game at 5 apiece, the Cougars responded with a 10-0 run capped by back-to-back three pointers from Harris.
The Cougars stuck with the theme of lockdown defense in the first frame, forcing UNO to turn the ball over nine times, leading to 11 points off turnovers. Despite Houston’s bigs Myyah West and Octavia Barnes being in early foul trouble, the Cougars outscored the Privateers 14-0 in the paint in the quarter.
Houston scored 16 of the last 26 points down the stretch in the first quarter to extend the lead to 31-15 after 10 minutes of play. Branch finished the quarter with a team-high 12 points, while Harris added nine.
New Orleans found the scoreboard first with 8:30 remaining in the second quarter, but again Houston had an answer for the Privateers to the tune of a 12-0 run over the next 4:30 of the contest. Freshman Julia Blackshell-Fair tallied six of Houston’s 12 points over the span. The Cougars also got buckets from Branch, Barnes and Serithia Hawkins over the stretch.
The Privateers would mount a 10-0 run of their own, picking up five points from the free-throw line while holding the Cougars scoreless over a 3:12 stretch. New Orleans worked the lead under 20 late in the half, but a Branch 3-pointer as time was winding down on the clock pushed the lead back to 20 at the half at 49-29.
Houston would force eight more turnovers in the second quarter, giving the team 17 in the half and leading to 18 points off those turnovers. The Cougars continued to dominate the battle down low, winning the points in the paint contest 12-2 in the second period and 26-2 overall in the first half.
New Orleans was able to slow the momentum of Houston early in the third quarter, but the Privateers would have to settle with trading baskets throughout the first half of the frame. Harris opened the frame with a 3-pointer to extend the lead to 52-29, but New Orleans would answer with a 5-0 run to cut the lead to 52-34.
A few possessions later, Myyah West knocked down a pair of free throws and followed that with a layup to push the lead back to 22 at 58-36. However, the Privateers would mount a furious comeback to cut the lead to 10 on the strength of a 16-0 run over 5:13. New Orleans was able to get to the line 12 times over the stretch and knock down each attempt to bring the score to 58-52. Houston pushed the lead back to 10 at the buzzer with a basket from Jasmyne Harris to take a 62-52 lead to the final intermission.
Houston regained momentum to open the fourth quarter on the strength of five straight points from junior Octavia Barnes and a layup by Blackshell-Fair to push the lead back to 17 at 69-52. Barnes would take over for the Cougars in the final frame scoring 10 of Houston’s 16 points in the period. Barnes finished the contest with 15 points and 11 rebounds for her first career double-double.
In the waning minutes of the contest, Houston did a great job of not allowing the Privateers to find any momentum down the stretch, and Houston pulled off the 78-66 victory.
Score: Houston 78 (2-1), New Orleans 66 (1-2)
Date: Friday, Nov. 17, 2017
Location: Lakefront Arena (New Orleans, La.) | Preseason WNIT Consolation Round
Houston put the game out of reach early with a pair of big runs in the first quarter. With the score tied at 5 each, Houston mounted a 10-0 run to push the lead to 15-5. After New Orleans stopped the run with 4:48 in the quarter, Houston responded with a 16-8 run to end the quarter with a 31-15 lead.
Houston: The Cougars were led in the contest by junior Octavia Barnes who posted career-highs in points and rebounds with 15 and 11, respectively, for her first career double-double. Sophomore Dorian Branch led the Cougars in scoring with 17 points while assisting on four baskets, while Angela Harris added 13 points and Julia Blackshell-Fair posted a career-high 10 points. Serithia Hawkins collected a career-high 15 rebounds to pace the Cougars on the glass.
New Orleans: The Privateers got a monster night from Shania Woods who posted game-highs in points with 20 and rebounds with 19 en route to a double-double. Randi Brown put in 19 points for New Orleans due in part to 11-of-14 shooting from the free throw line.
NEWS AND NOTES
- With her performance on the boards, junior Serithia Hawkins passed Karen Yee (474; 1987-90) for 20th on the all-time Houston rebounding list. Hawkins now has 490 career boards.
- Houston was able to win the rebounding margin, pulling down 50 boards to New Orleans’ 46. The Cougars collected 18 offensive rebounds and scored 14 second chance points.
- Houston was a force down low, outscoring the Privateers 40-12 in the paint.
- The Cougars forced 23 turnovers in the game and scored 23 points off turnovers.
- Houston got a big production from its bench, outscoring the Privateers 26-16 with its reserves.
UP NEXT FOR HOUSTON
The Cougars continue their season-opening 8-game road trip with a jaunt to the northeast to meet Boston College on Wednesday, Nov. 22. From there, Houston will travel to Amherst, Mass., to meet Liberty and Northeastern in the UMass Thanksgiving Tournament to be held Nov. 24-25.
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