Thursday, January 31, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 83



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 games.

Brian Viney/The Daily Cougar

Sophomore guard Chandi Jones falls to earth after putting up a jump shot against Louisville on Jan. 18.

The Cougars are coming off two key wins on the East Coast where they continued to somehow do what they've been doing
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 much
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 the
Year Deanna Jackson suffered a broken leg in a game at Ball State. The absence of the Blazers' team leader and best player
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) in
Tampa, Fla.

The key to facing the Lady Bulls this season may lie in determining which team is going to show up. After reeling off 7 straight
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 looking
like a legitimate contender for the C-USA crown.

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 of weapons,
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 of
all-conference and possibly all-American honors. Her 29-point performance last week against Louisville demonstrates just
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.

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