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Volume 3, Issue 3                                    University of Houston

Lady Coogs edge out win over Raiders, prepare 
for South Florida and Cincinnati

By Crystal J. Doucette
Breaking News Staff

The Lady Cougars returned to Hofheinz Pavilion on Saturday to face the Middle Tennessee Lady Raiders after a three-week hiatus from home court action. With a .500-plus record on the line and facing a 7-3 team with two players averaging double-digit points per contest, UH held on for the win, 77-72, as the Lady Raiders tried to come back.

"They're a really good team," head coach Joe Curl said.

The Lady Coogs hampered the cold Lady Raiders early in the first half, scoring seven points before Middle Tennessee could put up two after three minutes and 30 seconds of play. Starting Lady Raider junior guard Jessica McClure had the ball stripped from her twice, committed a turnover and missed a shot during that time, while three of her teammates picked up a foul apiece.

It took the Lady Raiders another four minutes to score with another two from junior forward Jamie Thomatis, who fouled out with less than a minute to play in the game with 28 points, eight rebounds and a perfect three-for-three from the three-point line.

As for three-pointers, the Lady Cougars dropped four in the first half, shooting almost 50 percent from the field. UH led by as much as 21 points in the first half, holding Middle Tennessee to single-digits for more than 13 minutes and entering the locker room with the lead, 41-24.

The Lady Raiders shifted gears in the second half, shooting 45 percent from the field while the Lady Coogs only hit 32 percent and missed all of their three-point attempts. Thomatis drained her final two threes while freshman forward Keisha McClinic came off the bench to score 15 points with five three-pointers in the second half. McClinic finished the night with 19 points in 14 minutes of play.

"We left them wide open on the three," Curl said. "We need to help on ball side." Even with the increased offensive effort of the Lady Raiders and McClinic's rain of threes, they were unable to climb out of the 20-point deficit they started to fill with less than 10 minutes left to play in the game. Middle Tennessee managed to pull within four with less than 20 seconds left and outscored the Lady Coogs in the second half by 12 points. Freshman guard/forward Chandi Jones scored more than 20 points for the seventh time this season, sinking 25 points with a team-high four steals in UH's victory over the Lady Raiders. Jones is averaging 21.1 points per game.

Senior Mone't Sykes and ShaRonda Lasseter posted their third double-doubles of the season. Sykes hit a season-high 18 points with 11 rebounds, while Lasseter pulled down 12 with 10 points.

Junior forward/center Valerie Muoneke returned to the court for the first time since breaking a finger in her shooting hand on Nov. 26.

UH left Hawaii with second place in the Ala Moana Hotel Paradise Classic, Dec. 18-20. The Lady Coogs defeated Eastern Washington (73-60) and Detroit-Mercy (90-80) the first two days of the tournament, but fell to the host Wahine as Hawaii defeated UH, 85-74.

The Lady Cougars left the locker room down 43-23 against Hawaii, but closed the gap to five with less than two minutes left to play. Three women fouled out in those final minutes: Jones, freshman guard forward Nicole Oliver and senior guard Jessica Shanklin.

Jones finished the night with 21 points, followed by Sykes with 11 points and Lasseter with a team-high six rebounds.

UH turned heads against Detroit-Mercy on Dec. 19 as four Lady Coogs hit double-figures in the second game of the round-robin tourney. Shanklin ripped up her career-highs as she sank 27 points, seven-of-10 from beyond the arc and nine-of-14 field goal attempts. She scored 20 points in the first half.

Lasseter put up her second double-double of the season with 13 points and 12 rebounds (her first was against Indiana with a season-high 21 points and 11 rebounds). Jones wasn't far behind with 19 points and eight rebounds, along with Sykes with 18 points and eight rebounds.

The Lady Cougars travel to Tampa, Fla., and Cincinnati, Ohio, to play South Florida on Tuesday and Cincinnati on Friday in their first two Conference USA games of the season. The Lady Coogs return to Hofheinz to play C-USA rival Louisville at 2 p.m. Sunday.

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