by Jason Paul RamÔrezDaily Cougar Staff
AUSTIN -- A Lady Cougars victory over Texas is about as rare as an Austin snowfall.
Both happening on the same day, however, is almost impossible.
A little less than an inch of snow covered the city's grounds Saturday morning, and the Lady Longhorns took their turns that night as they avalanched Houston with an 82-68 freezing before 7,373 at the Frank Erwin Center.
The loss for the Cougars (10-9, 3-4 in the Southwest Conference) makes them 2-49 lifetime against Texas (11-7, 6-1), including an 0-20 mark at the Erwin Center.
But this game was a little closer than the final score may have indicated.
After the Longhorns took a 46-30 lead on a running jumper from junior guard Danielle Viglione at the 19:03 mark of the second half, Houston responded with an 11-2 run of its own to cut the deficit to 48-41 with 15:10 left to play.
Cougars senior guard Tanda Rucker led the charge with five points in the run and scored in double figures (15 points) for the first time in four games.
"Someone had to step up tonight," Rucker said. "Jennifer (Jones) was a little injured, and Pat (Luckey) was in foul trouble tonight."
Sophomore forward Jones did not make Saturday's start because she was slowed by a sprained left ankle she suffered in practice Jan. 29. Junior forward Luckey was forced to sit the bench for 10 first-half minutes with two personal fouls.
Thus, Rucker and freshman guard Shunta Hart (seven points on 5-of-7 shooting from the free-throw line) tried to hold their own as Texas took a 42-28 lead at the break.
"Houston is extremely talented," Longhorns coach Jody Conradt said. "Pat Luckey is a handful, and we were fortunate that we were able to answer on our end when Houston made a run."
After the Cougars cut the Longhorns' lead to 48-41, UT responded with a 15-6 spurt, taking a 63-47 lead with 6:49 left.
Houston didn't seem to have an answer for Longhorns freshman guard Vanessa Wallace or senior forward Erica Routt. The UT tandem scored 23 and 18 points, respectively, as the two shot a combined 18-of-32 from the floor (56.3 percent).
"We knew that we couldn't afford to let Texas get any second opportunities to score," Houston coach Jessie Kenlaw said. "We needed to play with lots of intensity for both halves and couldn't afford any lapses."
But the Cougars were still not out of it.
Luckey would eventually get back into the ballgame and led an 11-4 run to cut Texas' 63-47 lead to 67-58 with 3:54 left to go.
Luckey (19 points on the night) scored all 11 points in the run, and on the Longhorns' preceding inbounds pass, Houston stole the ball and Texas was forced to call a timeout.
The timeout seemed to do wonders for the Horns as the Cougars never got any closer the rest of the way.