AMHERST, Mass. – The Houston Cougar Women’s Basketball team erased a 10-point halftime deficit to come from behind and beat Liberty 75-68 on the opening day of the UMASS Thanksgiving Classic on Friday, in Amherst, Mass.
Houston started sluggish in the contest, turning the ball over on two of its first three possessions, while Liberty built an early 7-0 lead. The Cougars responded with a 6-0 run due to a layup from freshman Julia Blackshell-Fair and a pair of jumpers from Octavia Barnes.
However, the Cougars would score just six more points the remainder of the quarter, while Liberty built a 17-12 lead heading into the first intermission. The Lady Flames had six different players find the scoreboard in the first quarter and held Houston to just 5-of-13 (38.5 percent) shooting in the period.
The lockdown defense continued for both teams in the second quarter, a frame which saw just 19 combined points. Liberty pushed the lead to nine at 21-12 with back-to-back buckets from KK Barbour and Ashtyn Baker. Angela Harris answered with a 3-pointer to cut the lead back to six at 21-15 with 7:03 to play, but the Cougars would manage just two more field goals the remainder of the half.
After holding Houston to 21.4 percent (3-of-14) from the field in the quarter, Liberty built a 10 point lead at 29-19 heading into halftime.
Liberty extended the lead to its largest of the night at 34-23 early in the third quarter, but Houston would find another gear to turn the contest around. After trading baskets, Harris buried a 3-pointer to bring the lead back to single digits at 36-29 and after a Liberty free throw, Harris found the scoreboard again with a fast-break layup to bring the score to 37-31.
Houston brought the lead to two just a minute later on back-to-back buckets from sophomore Jasmyne Harris and Blackshell-Fair. The Lady Flames put together a miniature 4-0 run, but Harris answered with a 3-pointer followed by a pair of free throws from Octavia Barnes to cut the lead to 41-40. Houston forced a turnover on the next possession and junior Serithia Hawkins knocked down a pair of free throws to give the Cougars their first lead of the game at 42-41.
The teams traded buckets for the remainder of the quarter before Nene Johnson hit a layup with 16 seconds remaining to give Liberty a 49-47 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Houston forced 10 Liberty turnovers in the frame, leading to 11 points off turnovers, en route to outscoring the Lady Flames 28-20 to cut into the lead.
Houston continued to play tough on both ends of the ball in the fourth quarter and claimed the lead for good early in the fourth quarter. Liberty opened the quarter with a bucket from Keyen Green to push the score to 51-47, but the Cougars tied the score over the next two possessions with back-to-back steals and layups from Angela Harris and Hawkins.
Liberty got a basket from Lela Seller to reclaim the lead, but it was short-lived, as the Cougars responded with a 7-0 run. Jasmyne Harris gave the Cougars the lead with a 3-pointer off of a Dorian Branch assist, before Serithia Hawkins pushed the lead to five with a layup. After a Liberty timeout, Branch stole a Liberty pass and got to the free throw line, where she knocked down both, to give Houston a 58-53 lead.
The Lady Flames would respond however, cutting the lead back to one at 58-57 after a layup from Kierra Graham-Johnson and a pair of free throws from Baker. Houston would yet again have an answer to Liberty though, as Jasmyne Harris connected on another 3-point basket, followed by a Branch layup to bring the score to 63-57 with just 2:11 remaining.
Angela Harris would connect on another 3-pointer just 40 seconds later to make it a 3-possession game at 66-59, and Houston made seven of eight free throws down the stretch to ice the game and take the victory, 75-68.
Score: Houston 75 (3-2), Liberty 68 (1-3)
Date: Friday, Nov. 24, 2017
Location: Mullins Center (Amherst, Mass.) | UMASS Thanksgiving Classic
Houston scored just 19 points in the first half but exploded for 56 in the last two quarters, thanks in large part to Jasmyne Harris’ 16 second-half points.
Houston: Angela Harris led all scorers in the contest with a season-high 20 points, while Jasmyne Harris added 16 points in just 19 minutes of action. Serithia Hawkins put in 12 points en route to her 13th career double-double after leading all rebounders with 11 boards, while Octavia Barnes added 12 points and Dorian Branch finished with 11.
Liberty: The Lady Flames finished with three players in double-figures including a team-high 15 from KK Barbour. Kierra Johnson-Graham finished with 13 points, while Lela Sellers added 10. On the glass, Liberty was paced by Ola Makurat who pulled down seven rebounds.
NEWS AND NOTES
- Houston continued to be a defensive threat, forcing 34 turnovers including 18 steals. The Cougars entered the contest second in the American Athletic Conference and 14th in the nation in total steals.
- Serithia Hawkins had a big night on the glass for the Cougars en route to her 13th career double-double. Hawkins’ 11 total rebounds gives her 508 for her career, making her just the 20th Cougar in school history to reach the 500-rebound plateau. Hawkins also pulled down seven boards on the offensive end, giving her 197 career offensive rebounds, moving her past Yasmeen Thompson (196; 2010-14) on the all-time Houston offensive rebound list.
- Sophomore Angela Harris knocked down three 3-point field goals in the game, giving her 65 for her career and moving her into 17th on the all-time Houston 3-pointers made list.
- Senior Mariah Mitchell had three 3-point field goal attempts in the contest, moving her to No. 10 all-time on the Houston list for the category and passing Porsche Landry (270; 2008-13) with 273.
- Sophomore Quatera Limbrick checked into the game late in the second quarter to make her season debut. Limbrick’s action was the first for her since an injury ended her freshman year just nine games into the 2016-17 season..
- Houston outscored Liberty 36-16 on points off turnovers, 14-7 on second chance points and 10-6 on the fast break.
UP NEXT FOR HOUSTON
Houston will meet Northeastern to wrap up the action at the UMASS Thanksgiving Classic at 10 a.m., Saturday. The Huskies defeated UMASS 64-54 to open their competition at the classic.
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