April 4, 2011
HOUSTON - The University of Houston women's basketball team took its first step back towards national prominence this season, making its first NCAA Tournament appearance and jumping back into the national rankings for the first time since the 2004-05 season.
The Cougars were guided by first-year head coach Todd Buchanan, who claimed his first victory at Houston and the 100th of his career with a season-opening 88-48 rout of UT Arlington on Nov. 14, 2010.
Buchanan knew big things might be in store for the Cougars two games later when Houston overcame a 16-point second-half deficit to top NCAA Tournament-bound Louisiana Tech on the road. The Cougars outscored the Lady Techsters by a 20-4 margin over the final 9:04, as Porsche Landry and Courtney Taylor combined for 18 of the final 20 points.
The following game, the Cougars claimed another big road victory to begin the season 4-0 for only the third time in 19 seasons, topping Oral Roberts in a 93-89 thriller. Landry netted a career-high 31 points, while Brittney Scott tallied seven of the final eight points to hold off a furious ORU rally. With the Cougars holding a three-point lead with 15 seconds remaining, Landry wrestled away the inbounds pass and knocked down a free-throw to ice the contest.
Houston took a 6-1 record into the Duel in the Desert Tournament in Las Vegas, Nev., where the Cougars played some of their best basketball all season.
The Cougars opened the tournament on Dec. 18 with a 79-70 victory over No. 21 Nebraska, and followed with a 92-80 drubbing of Louisville, who advanced to this season's NCAA Sweet 16. Houston whittled a 17-point second-half deficit down to three points but just fell short to Marist in the tournament finale, which finished the season with a 31-3 overall record.
Taylor suffered a knee injury the day before the Cougars were to take on No. 18 Georgetown, and the Cougars dropped two of the next three contests to the Hoyas and Lamar to wrap up the non-conference slate at 9-4 overall.
The two-time Conference USA Player of the Year returned to the lineup on Jan. 6 as Houston opened the league schedule with a 78-48 romp of Tulsa as Taylor posted 16 points and eight rebounds in only 20 minutes of play.
The Cougars wouldn't look back, going a perfect 16-0 in league play, although there would be a few scares along the way.
Houston brought a 6-0 C-USA mark into Orlando, Fla., to face UCF on Jan. 27, and ran out to a 13-point lead with 11:41 remaining in the contest. The Knights stormed back to take their first lead of the second half with 1:30 left to play, and held a three-point lead with two shots coming from the free-throw line with 55.3 seconds remaining.
UCF missed both shots, however, and Lesslee Mason converted two free-throws on the other end to cut the deficit to one with 44.0 seconds left. Taylor and Scott would go 4-for-4 from the free-throw line over the final 24.0 seconds as Houston got defensive stops on UCF's final two possessions for the three-point victory.
The following contest would prove to be one of the most memorable finishes in Houston history, as the Cougars overcame a six-point deficit with only 27 seconds left to defeat SMU, 72-67.
Scott started the rally with a 3-pointer to cut the deficit in half, and SMU missed the front end of the one-and-one at the free-throw line, as Scott struck again with another long-range bomb to knot the game with 15 seconds remaining.
Lesslee Mason then stole the ensuing inbounds pass and dished to a streaking Brittany Mason, who was fouled and hit both attempts from the charity stripe for the go-ahead points. The Cougars would also swipe the next two inbounds passes to seal the victory.
On Feb. 20, the Cougars cruised past UTEP at Hofheinz Pavilion to clinch the C-USA regular season title for only the second time in program history.
After achieving the feat with three league games remaining, the Cougars then set their sights on becoming only the second C-USA team to run the table in the regular season.
Houston would again use some magic, overcoming a 19-point deficit to top Rice by a score of 74-70, and needing an overtime period to take down Tulane on March 5 to reach perfection.
The Cougars opened the C-USA Championship with a gritty 68-64 win over UTEP in front of an energized crowd in El Paso, Texas, before seeing their school-record 17-game winning streak snapped in the semifinals against Tulane.
Houston earned an at-large bid to the 2011 NCAA Tournament as a No. 8 seed, and faced off against No. 9-seeded West Virginia in the Dallas Region in Waco, Texas. The Cougars trailed the Mountaineers by 12 at the half, and their patented comeback fell just short as Houston's memorable season came to a close.
*The 26 wins are the second-most in school history, trailing the 28 victories recorded by the 2003-04 squad.
*The Cougars posted an 11-1 record at Hofheinz Pavilion, marking the eighth-most wins at home in Houston history.
*Houston was 13-2 on the road, which ranks second in school (2003-04 - 14) and league history.
*The Cougars claimed the C-USA regular season title on Feb. 20, marking only the second regular season league crown in program history.
*Houston went a perfect 16-0 in C-USA regular season play, becoming only the second league team to achieve the feat in 15 seasons.
*Houston broke into the national rankings in both the Associated Press Top 25 Poll and the ESPN/USA Today Division 1 Coaches' Poll for the first time since Dec. 28, 2004. The Cougars reached as high as No. 22 nationally.
*Houston won a school-record 17 consecutive games, which started on Jan. 6 and ended on March 11.
*The Cougars set school records in made free-throws (592) and free-throw attempts (853), while ranking second all-time in 3-pointers (170) and free-throw percentage (69.4), third in 3-point percentage (34.3) and blocked shots (153), fourth in rebounds (1,404), games played (32) and minutes played (6,425), fifth in points scored (2,384), sixth in 3-point attempts (496) and rebounding average (43.9) and 10th in field goal attempts (2,033).
*Houston faced six NCAA Tournament teams this season, going 3-3 with wins over Louisiana Tech, Louisville and UCF, and losses to Marist (31-3), Georgetown and West Virginia.
*The Cougars went 9-5 against non-conference teams with a combined record of 252-198.
*Houston entered the NCAA Tournament ranked No. 26 in RPI, and went 6-6 in 12 games against teams ranked in the top 100.
COACH BUCHANAN NOTES
*Head coach Todd Buchanan was the lone first-year head coach to take his team to the NCAA Tournament this season.
*Buchanan was named the Conference USA Coach of the Year, marking only the second Houston floor general to garner the accolade (Joe Curl - 2004). Buchanan was also only the second first-year head coach to achieve the feat in 15 seasons in the league.
*Buchanan was also named the RUSSELL ATHLETIC/WBCA State Farm Division I Region 4 Coach of the Year, becoming one of only eight finalists for the National Coach of the Year honor.
*Buchanan claimed the most victories (26) in a single-season for a first-year head coach at Houston.
*Buchanan tallied his first victory at Houston and the 100th of his career in the season-opening rout of UT Arlington on Nov. 14, 2010.
*Senior forward Courtney Taylor was named the Conference USA Player of the Year for the second-consecutive season, as well as earning C-USA Defensive Player of the Year honors. Taylor became only the second player all-time at Houston and the fourth in C-USA history to garner Player of the Year honors more than once. Taylor also became only the second Defensive Player of the Year selection in Houston history, joining Nicole Oliver (2002).
*Courtney Taylor, Brittney Scott and Porsche Landry were all named First Team All-Conference USA, marking only the second time a team placed three student-athletes on the first team ballot.
*The Cougars accounted for nine of the 17 Conference USA Player of the Week awards this season, as Courtney Taylor grabbed five awards, while Porsche Landry earned her first two accolades and Brittney Scott and Lesslee Mason also claimed their first-career weekly awards.
*With Courtney Taylor's five C-USA Player of the Week awards this season, the senior rounded out her career with 10 weekly accolades, ranking second behind Chandi Jones' 11 awards compiled from 2000-04.
*Courtney Taylor became Houston's all-time leading rebounder against UAB on Jan. 20, 2011, and finished with 1,165 rebounds, while also holding the school record in defensive rebounds (821), and ranking second in rebounding average (10.0 rpg), offensive rebounds (344), third in made free-throws (380), free-throw attempts (562), blocked shots (142), games started (112) and minutes played (3,535), fourth in points scored (1,684) and made field goals (633), fifth in field goal attempts (1,304) and steals (212), seventh in field goal percentage (48.5) and eighth in blocked shots average (1.2).
*Courtney Taylor is one of only two players in Houston history and one of six all-time in C-USA with 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.
*Courtney Taylor ranks third all-time in Conference USA history with 1,165 rebounds and 13th with 1,684 points.
*Courtney Taylor registered 20 double-doubles to push her school-record total to 60, which also ranks second in C-USA history. The 20 double-doubles during the 2010-11 season rank fourth nationally, while Taylor's 11.1 rebounds per game rank ninth in the country.
*Courtney Taylor set a Houston single-season record during the 2010-11 campaign with 238 defensive rebounds, while ranking second in total rebounds (322) and rebounds per game (11.1) and 10th in made free-throws (118).
*Brittney Scott earned First-Team All-C-USA honors for the first time after leading the Cougars for the second-straight season in scoring with 15.8 points per game.
*Brittney Scott set the all-time Houston 3-point record at UAB on Jan. 20, 2011, and finished her career with 226 treys. Scott also ranks first in program history in 3-point attempts (642), and second in free-throw percentage (79.9), third in field goal attempts (1,323) and 3-point percentage (35.2), fourth in games started (93) and minutes played (3,279), fifth in made free-throws (318), sixth in free-throw attempts (398), seventh in points scored (1,522) and games played (122) and ninth in made field goals (489).
*Brittney Scott ranked second in single-season Houston history with 84 3-pointers and 217 3-point attempts during the 2010-11 campaign, while also ranking third in 3-point percentage (38.7), fifth in minutes played (1,062) and ninth in free-throw percentage (80.5).
*Porsche Landry became the 21st member of Houston's 1000-point club against Tulane on March 11, marking only the fourth player in school history with 1,000 points and 300 assists.
*Porsche Landry was 25-of-70 from beyond the arc this season, marking the ninth-best percentage (35.7) in program history. Landry also jumped into sixth spot in the Houston career charts in 3-piont percentage (31.8).
*Lesslee Mason wrapped up her two-year career at Houston ranking third in rebound average (9.0 rpg), sixth in blocked shots average (1.5 bpg), seventh in blocked shots (93) and 10th in offensive rebounds (231).
*Lesslee Mason grabbed 124 offensive rebounds during the 2010-11 campaign to rank third in single-season history, while also placing ninth in total rebounds (292) and 10th in blocked shots average (1.7 bpg).