MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- After already haven taken down the Lady Tigers at Hofheinz Pavilion in their first meeting of the season on January 26, the University of Houston Lady Cougars took Memphis' home court at Elma Roane Fieldhouse on Friday (Feb. 23) with an advantage and looked to sweep the season series. Memphis outplayed Houston on virtually all fronts, however, and halted Houston's three-game winning streak as they handed the Lady Cougars a 83-71 defeat.
Houston jumped out to a quick 12-4 lead before Memphis began to battle back and stake their own lead. After Houston tied the score at 19-19 with 7:42 remaining in the first half, junior Valerie Muoneke nailed a two-point field goal with 7:17 left to give the Lady Cougars a brief lead until Houston fouls allowed Memphis to retake the lead on six straight free throws and as the Lady Tigers entered the locker room with a 36-28 lead.
Memphis came out strong in the second half and never looked back. Houston remained within 10 points for much of the half until the Lady Tigers pulled further ahead in the closing minutes with back-to-back field goals and Houston fouls which lead to eight Memphis points on free throws. The Lady Tigers, lead by All-American candidate Tiffany Adkins and Shannon Hamp's 19 points a piece, outscored the Lady Cougars in the second half en route to their 15th win of the year.
Four Lady Cougar seniors closed out the game in double figures, including Jessica Shanklin and ShaRonda Lasseter with a team-leading 16 points a piece, along with Cathy Lida with 12 and Monet Sykes with 11. Lasseter, who carries Houston's best shooting percentage, shot 7-of-9 from the field and Shanklin was 6-of-19, including a team-leading three field goals from outside the arc. In addition, Shanklin extended her consecutive game streak with double figures in scoring to eight games and has now made two-or-more three-point shots in each of her last nine contests.
Defensively for Houston, Muoneke pulled down a team-high eight boards and along with fellow senior Norma Noel, had two blocks. Both Sykes and Lida added three steals.
Lida reached a career milestone tonight as she scored the 500th point of her career as a Lady Cougar. She entered the game just eight points shy of the mark, and with 17:04 left in the second half she nailed the second of her two free throws for her eighth of the game.
With the loss Houston falls to 18-10 overall on the season and 10-5 in conference play. They close out the regular season on Sunday afternoon as they travel to Birmingham, Alabama, to take on the Lady Blazers of UAB at 2:00pm. The Lady Cougars then travel to Milwaukee. Wisconsin, to join all C-USA schools in the annual Conference USA Tournament from March 2-5. Since Houston has earned a first-round bye in the tournament, they do not begin play until Saturday, March 3, with their opponent and game time yet to be announced.