Houston improves to 4-1 to tie for best record in Conference USA action by defeating Tulane, 90-80, in overtime
NEW ORLEANS, La. - The University of Houston Lady Cougars entered Sunday afternoon's contest against the Tulane Green Wave knowing that a victory would give them a 4-1 record to tie Tulane with the overall best record in C-USA; but more importantly, it would place them alone atop the National Division. They also knew that they would extend their season-high winning streak to three games. It took them an extra five minutes of overtime, but the Lady Cougars took down the Green Wave by a final of 90-80 at Fogelman Arena.
In a physical game from tip-off, Houston started slow and entered half-time down to Tulane, 34-31, thanks in part to the Green Wave's Janell Burse's 14 points. Just like it had in their previous game at Southern Miss on Friday night, the Lady Cougar offense got into a rhythm and came alive in the second half.
Freshman Chandi Jones poured in 22 second-half points, including making all six of her free throw attempts, and senior Monet Sykes' key shots accumulated for 17 points as Houston took the lead within the first six minutes of the half and outscored Tulane, 38-35. Down by two points with 22 seconds left in regulation, the Green Wave tied the score at 69-69 to force the game into overtime as Burse nailed both of her free throws.
On overtime, Tulane scored first and the Lady Cougars went on a rampage. They would score 21 points in the next four-and-a-half minutes-12 coming on free throw shots from six Tulane fouls-and hold off the Green Wave for their second-straight C-USA win and their third consecutive win overall. Senior Jessica Shanklin, who had a Lady Cougar season-high 11 assists in the game, connected for all four of her free throw attempts and Sykes added six points in the extra minutes.
In addition to Jones, who shot 10-of 26 on the day including 9-of-11 from the free throw line, and Sykes, who shot 10-of-21 on the afternoon, senior ShaRonda Lasseter was the other Lady Cougar to score in double figures as she shot 4-of-5 from the field and 2-of-2 from the free throw line for 10 points. Sykes pulled down a team-high eight boards and added four steals.
Overall in the game, the Houston defense had 16 steals against Tulane and also forced 23 Green Wave turnovers to Tulane's 15 off the Lady Cougars.
With the win Houston improves to 11-6 overall on the season, their highest win total since closing out the 1995-96 season at 12-16, and their four wins in C-USA play marks the most victories ever since joining the conference in 1996-97. The Lady Cougars return to action at home on Sunday, January 21, as they host South Florida at Hofheinz Pavilion with tip-off scheduled for 2:00pm.