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Volume 69, Issue 106, Monday, March 9, 2004


No questions asked

Win vs. TCU adds C-USA tourney title to regular-season crown

FORT WORTH -- Sandora Irvin said she was "tired of Houston." And that was before the junior center from No. 16 Texas Christian took the court Sunday against Houston. Her whole team, indeed all of Conference USA, is probably tired of Houston now.

The Lady Cougars beat TCU 86-75, securing Houston's first-ever conference title in women's basketball. Senior guard Chandi Jones was named the Conference USA Tournament Most Valuable Player and junior forward Sancho Lyttle was named to the All-Conference USA Tournament team. Cincinnati's Valerie King, Irvin and TCU's Kim Ortega also made the all-tournament team.

The Lady Cougars erased any doubt about who is the best team in Conference USA, winning the C-USA Tournament exactly one week after clinching the regular-season title.
Pin Lim/The Daily Cougar

Houston (27-3 overall, 16-1 in C-USA) stormed through the tournament, beating Cincinnati (15-15, 6-10) 84-67 on Friday, Marquette (21-9, 11-6) 67-59 on Saturday before finishing with the team's third victory this season over TCU in the title game.

"I'm just proud of our kids," head coach Curl said. "And that had to be a great game to watch. From my point of view, I don't know if it was a great game to watch, but from television and the fans' standpoint that had to a great game."

TCU and Houston battled back and forth in the early going with seven ties and 11 lead-changes in the first 14 minutes. Junior center Kiki Harris put the Lady Cougars ahead for good with 6:55 remaining in the first half when she put in a jumper that gave Houston a 27-26 lead. 

The Lady Cougars led 43-34 at halftime and came out firing in the second half. Jones hit three consecutive three-pointers in the first two minutes of the second half. TCU got within two points on a basket by freshman guard Adrian Ross, whose jumpshot cut it to a 57-55 Houston lead.

Jones had 36 points against TCU, 24 coming in the second half. For the tournament, Jones averaged 27 points and 5.3 rebounds.

"She's a good player. We tried to stop her," TCU head coach Jeff Mittie said. "You know she's going to get points. Chandi has a way of getting others involved early and then taking over when she needs to take over ... she's able to create, I think, better than any player in the country, off the dribble."

Houston dispatched Marquette 67-59 in a game that wasn't as close as the score would indicate. The Lady Cougars led by as many as 16 points in the second half. Lyttle led the way for the Lady Cougars with 18 points, 12 rebounds and three steals.

In Friday's game, Houston beat Cincinnati 84-67 as Lyttle had the best game of her young career at UH. She had a career-high 34 points on 15-of-19 shooting to go with 11 rebounds and four steals. Cincinnati's King had 25 points and shot a tournament record 7-of-12 on three-point attempts.

Jones, the three-time Conference USA Player of the Year, won the first conference championship in her storied career at UH. She is the program's all-time leading scorer.

"A conference championship, not only for me but also (senior guard) Nicole (Oliver), was one of the goals we set," Jones said. "I'm just happy right now. I'm really at a loss for words."

Lyttle averaged 21.7 points and 9.7 rebounds on 62.5 percent shooting in the tournament.

The Lady Cougars will have more than a week off before they take part in the NCAA women's tournament.

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