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Volume 68, Isssue 106, Friday, February 28, 2003


Win over USF or UAB would send UH packing for C-USA

By Christian Schmidt
The Daily Cougar

Just win, baby.

Thatis a phrase made popular by Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis but itis even more appropriate for the Lady Cougars this season. A win against either South Florida tonight or Alabama-Birmingham on Sunday would get the Houston womenis basketball team to its most immediate goal, securing a place in the Conference USA Womenis Tournament.

Nathan Lindstrom/The Daily Cougar

Junior forward Nicole Oliver and the Lady Cougars will try to earn a trip to the Conference USA Womenis Tournament when they play South Florida at 7 p.m. tonight at Hofheinz Pavilion.

Right now, Houston (13-12 overall, 4-8 in conference) is tied with East Carolina and UAB for 11th place in the conference standings. The top 12 teams get places in the conference tournament, set to begin Friday in Memphis.

If Houston wins either game, it will secure a spot in the tournament. Depending on the outcome of other games within the conference, Houston could be anywhere from the fifth to the 12th seed in the tournament, though the lower seeds are more likely than the higher ones.

Interestingly, if East Carolina loses both its games this weekend (against Tulane and Southern Miss), the Lady Cougars could lose both their games and still make the tournament, albeit as the 12th seed.

Getting on a roll by making and then winning the C-USA tournament is the Lady Cougarsi only chance at making a post-season tournament, and probably a slim chance at that.

With that picture in mind, Houston will face South Florida (7-18 overall, 2-10 in conference) tonight. The Lady Bulls is easily the worst team in C-USA. Since having a 4-2 record on Dec. 4, South Florida has gone 3-14.

The Lady Bulls have won two of their last three games, and are led by senior guard Aiya Shepard, tops on the team in scoring at 10.8 points per contest.

Sundayis contest against UAB pits the Lady Cougars against one of the teams in a three-way tie for 11th place in the conference.

Sophomore forward Natasha Thomas and junior center Michelle Smith are the force that makes the Lady Blazers run. Thomas averages 17.2 points per game and Smith averages 16.0.

The Lady Cougars have had an up-and-down season, as evidenced by their 13-12 record. But they have won three of their last five games and are coming off a thrilling 53-52 win over USM on Sunday.

UH junior Chandi Jones needs just 77 points to pass Sharion Higgins and become the all-time leading scorer in UH womenis basketball. Jones is already the leader, scoring an average of 23.8 points per game over her first three seasons.

Senior point guard Lashinda Winters has been reinstated to the team after missing six games because of "comments detrimental to the team."

After talking with head coach Joe Curl earlier this week, Winters has been allowed to rejoin the team. She has practiced since Wednesday and will play this weekend.

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