Cougars head to the Southeast
looking for a pair of road wins
By Brad Sebastian
Daily Cougar Staff
The UH women's basketball team (14-5, 4-2
in Conference USA) will put its five-game winning streak on the line this
weekend with a pair of conference road
Brian Viney/The Daily Cougar
Sophomore guard Chandi Jones
falls to earth after putting up a jump shot against Louisville on Jan.
The Cougars are coming off two key wins
on the East Coast where they continued to somehow do what they've been
all season: find a way to win. Heading
into the meat of the conference schedule, that knack for picking up wins
is exactly what
Joe Curl's team needs.
On Friday, the Cougars travel to Birmingham,
Ala., to take on the Alabama-Birmingham Blazers (8-12, 0-7 C-USA). The
Blazers will be hungry for a win, as they
have not been victorious since Dec. 22. The Cougars shouldn't have too
trouble against UAB, but they must guard
against a letdown.
This has been an extremely tough season
for UAB. On Jan. 2, All-American candidate and C-USA Preseason Player of
Year Deanna Jackson suffered a broken
leg in a game at Ball State. The absence of the Blazers' team leader and
has been painfully obvious.
Leading the Blazers is 6-2 Natasha Thomas.
The sophomore forward has put up some eye-catching numbers this season,
including 14 double-doubles. She is coming
off an impressive 20-point, 15-rebound performance at Louisville on Sunday.
Despite Thomas' best efforts, the Blazers
have yet to pick up a conference win thus far.
After Friday's game, the Cougars head east
for a Sunday afternoon match-up against South Florida (12-8, 2-5 C-USA)
The key to facing the Lady Bulls this season
may lie in determining which team is going to show up. After reeling off
wins to start the season, USF has been
very inconsistent since, going 5-8 over its last 13 games.
After overcoming injuries and pulling off
a huge upset against nationally ranked Tulane on Jan. 20, the Bulls were
like a legitimate contender for the C-USA
Just a week later, though, Cincinnati pummeled
the Bulls 92-47.
"(That was) the worst loss I've been associated
with since I've been here," head coach Jose Fernandez said.
Regardless of which team shows up, the
Cougars will have to contend with an explosive offense that has plenty
including the tenacious Aiya Shepard.
The 5-7 guard earned second team all-conference
honors last year and is swiftly putting together another season worthy
all-conference and possibly all-American
honors. Her 29-point performance last week against Louisville demonstrates
how dangerous she is on the floor.
The best chance for the Cougars is to come
up with answers on the defensive end throughout the game, probably from
defensive standout Nicole Oliver or Chandi
Jones, whose quickness enables her to defend even the best guards.
Following the road trip, the Cougars will
have a few days off before facing Tulane at Hofheinz Pavilion on Feb. 8.
It will be
their first home game since Jan. 20.