HOUSTON (Nov. 9) -- The University of Houston women's basketball team made a statement in its season-opening exhibition game Tuesday night in Hofheinz Pavilion, defeating a local amateur team composed of former collegiate players with its highest point total in exactly two years.
Lady Cougar newcomers Cathy Lida and Nakea Mitchell led the team in scoring with 22 and 17 points, respectively, as the UH women defeated the Houston Jaguars 88-81 in its first tuneup game of the 1999-2000 season. In fact seven UH newcomers accounted for 51 of the team's 88 points as head coach Joe Curl's new-look team appears to have taken some dramatic steps toward improvement. Meanwhile junior center ShaRonda Lassester, an All-Conference USA selection, added 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as the Lady Cougars scored their most points in a game since November of 1997.
The Houston newcomers took a few minutes to gell as the Jaguars opened a 9-2 lead to start the game. Mitchell, a junior guard who joined the team from Connors State Junior College, then nailed a three-pointer to give UH its first lead, 15-14, at the 12:23 mark.
The Lady Cougars built a 41-39 halftime lead but former Louisiana Tech standout Sheila Ethridge first grabbed a defensive rebound and then hit a three-pointer to put the Jaguars up on top 50-48 with 16 minutes remaining in the game. Houston then put together a 31-17 run to take a 12 point lead with just under five minutes left, but the Jaguars were able to cut the margin to four, 79-75. At the 1:50 mark a three-pointer by Lida, a native of France who played last season at Trinity Valley Community College, iced the game for Houston.
The UH women will play their second and final exhibition game of the season next Tuesday night on November 16. The Lady Cougars will tip off with another local amateur team at 7:00 p.m. in Hofheinz Pavilion.
Women's Basketball Linescore Houston Jaguars 39 42 -- 81 Houston Lady Cougars 41 47 -- 88 Scoring Leaders Sheila Ethridge (Jaguars) 30; Cathy Lida (UH) 22, Nakea Mithcell (UH) 17; Exhibition Records Houston (1-0);