Houston drops second straight C-USA contest by a final of 77-69
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama - After already taking down the Lady Blazers at Hofheinz Pavilion in their first meeting of the season on January 28, the University of Houston Lady Cougars went into Bartow Arena on Sunday (Feb. 25) afternoon looking to sweep the season series against the Lady Blazers and win their final game of the regular season. Though Houston battled, UAB handed the Lady Cougars a 77-69 defeat.
Neither team put point on the board in the first two minutes of the first half. Houston was the first to score and stake a lead before UAB began to battle back. From that point on both schools went back and forth with neither school being ahead by more than four points nearly the entire 20 minutes, but UAB pulled ahead in the closing two minutes. With four seconds left and down by five, junior Valerie Muoneke nailed her first three-pointer of the season to put the Lady Cougars within two as Houston entered the locker room down, 34-36.
UAB came out strong in the second half and went on to outscore Houston, 41-35, and hold on for the win. The Lady Cougars pulled to within seven in the final two minutes of regulation and senior Norma Noel's lay-up with 28 seconds left gave the Lady Cougars 69 points.
Four Lady Cougar closed out the game in double figures, including Muoneke with a team-high 18 points, senior ShaRonda Lasseter with 14 points, senior Jessica Shanklin with 13 and freshman Nicole Oliver added 10. Oliver led the team with eight boards and added two steals. Shanklin once again was the assist and steal leader with six and four, respectively, on the afternoon.
With about seven minutes remaining in the first half, Lady Cougar senior Monet Sykes, the team's leading rebounder, fell hard to the floor and suffered a laceration on the index finger of her left hand which required four stitches. She is listed as day-to-day.
Houston finishes the regular season with an 18-11 over all record and 10-6 in Conference USA games. Their 18 wins are the most since posting 22 victories during the 1991-92 season and they finished above .500 for the first time since that season.
The Lady Cougars received a No. 3 seed, the highest ever in school history, and earned a first round bye in the upcoming C-USA Tournament in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which begins Friday, March 2 and ends with the finals on Monday, March 5. They will play either Memphis or Saint Louis on Saturday, March 3 at 6:00pm (CT). The game will be broadcast live by the Texas Sports Radio Network at www.tsrn.com and on TotalCast.