The return of senior forward Jennifer Jones and a valiant effort in the second half couldn't save the Houston Lady Cougars from losing their third straight game of the season Thursday at Hofheinz Pavilion.
The loss, a 67-65 defeat to South Florida, drops the Lady Cougars to 2-5 and 0-1 in Conference USA play.
At halftime, UH was down nine points with no Lady Cougar posting more than four points.
Jones finished the game with four points on two-for-nine shooting.
"Anytime when your leading scorer misses two games and you can't get three players in double digits, then your offense is struggling," she said.
With Jones in the game as an offensive spark plug in the second half, the Lady Cougars fought their way back into the game, despite falling behind by as many as 14 points.
Throughout the final six minutes, UH threatened South Florida several times, but were unable to come within striking distance until a Shunta Hart layup cut the Bulls' lead to 62-61 with 2:01 left.
After South Florida widened the gap to three points, 64-61, Hart was fouled while attempting a three point shot with 42 seconds left.
After she hit two of three free throws, UH forced a steal by Jones as the Bulls attempted to bring the ball upcourt. Hart was fouled and hit two more free throws to give the Lady Cougars a one point lead for the first time since early in the first half.
However, the defense gave up a jumper by South Florida forward Sonya Swick with 10 seconds left and the Bulls' lead wouldn't be threatened again.
For the Lady Cougars, Hart co-led in scoring with 18 points and Flecia Comeaux had 15 points.
For the Bulls, Swick had 18 points, forward Tanya Gary had 12 and Shannon Layne had 10.
South Florida also outrebounded UH 49-37 despite committing 40 turnovers to the Cougars' 29.
Like Jones, UH head coach Jessie Kenlaw was also disappointed in the first half performance.
"I didn't expect for us to come out and play flat and appear that we weren't ready to play. We didn't come out and play like we should have," said Kenlaw.