Saturday, October 31, 2009

Keenam Leads Cougars to 50-43 Win Over Southern Miss

UH quarterback Case Keenam threw for 559 yards in the Cougars' 50-43 win over Southern Miss. (Photo by Darla Tamulitis-La Vita Loca Photography, All Rights Reserved)

By Robert H. Kelly
Copyright 2009 TexSport Publications

HOUSTON, TEXAS (October 31, 2009) The chances for the Houston Cougars to win the Conference USA Championship may have been dashed if not for a 28-yard touchdown pass from Case Keenam to Patrick Edwards with 21 seconds left in the game to give the Cougars a 50-43 victory over rival Southern Miss.

Southern Miss tied the game 43-43 with 57 seconds left on the game, giving Houston one last possession to get the ball into the end zone.

Case Keenam showed why he is one of the top quarterbacks in the country, passing for four plays and covering 77-yards to give in 36-seconds to secure the win. He threw for a career high 559-yard, completing 43 of 53 passes with one interception.

In a strictly offensive battle, the Cougars and Golden Eagles virtually traded scores the entire game in a game that saw a total of 1,358 yards of combined total offense from both teams.

Southern Miss got on the scoreboard first on a 6-yard run by Damion Fletcher at the 13:38 mark in the first quarter. Justin Esten’s kicked was blocked to make the score 6-0.

The Cougars quickly answered back on a 31-yards run by Charles Sims and a successful Matt Hogan kick to take the score to 7-6.

Southern Miss quarterback Martevious Young came back with 1:00 left in the quarter, hitting Gerald Baptiste on a seventy yard pass play to take the lead by one.

Houston came on like gang-busters in the second quarter, scoring 23 points against nine points for the Golden Eagles.

The Cougars added a field goal in the 3rd quarter to take their lead to 33-22 with 15 minutes to go.

Baptiste added two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter to tie the score at 43-43.

Then Keenan put on the 36 second show that brought down the curtain on Southern Mississippi.

Keenum had one of the best games of his career; throwing for five touchdowns while only being sacked once. His 557 yards was the highest ever thrown against a Golden Eagles’ team. The previous high was Eric Zeier from Georgia who threw for 544 yards in 1993.

UH's Posdniakova Sets Pool Records to Guide Cougars at UNC-Wilmington

WILMINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA (October 31, 2009) Senior diver Anastasia Pozdniakova set two pool records at the Seahawk Natatorium on the campus of UNC Wilmington Saturday afternoon as the University of Houston swimming and diving team competed against the Seahawks and Emory.

Pozdniakova won the 1-meter event with a record 354.75 points and followed that up with 359.95 points to take the 3-meter title. The Russia native also set pool records in both diving events on Friday at the Taishoff Aquatics Pavilion in Durham, N.C., on the campus of Duke University. Pozdniakova's total in the 1-meter event was also the sixth most points scored in the event in a dual meet in school history.

Sophomore Jessalyn Almond turned in a second place finish in both the 1- and 3-meter events with scores of 254.50 and 246.35, respectively. This was the second time this season that the duo of Pozdniakova and Almond combined to take the top two spots in both diving events. During the season opener, they took the top two honors at the Phill Hansel Duals.

Sophomore Kimberley Eeson followed up her win yesterday in the 200-yard freestyle by taking top honors again on Saturday with a time of 1:53.18. The win was also a pool record. Sophomore Olga Bordatcheva followed in 10th with a time of 2:00.39. Eeson's second win of the day came with her 5:07.08 finish in the 500-yard freestyle. Bordatcheva trailed in eighth 9(5:16.82) and sophomore Rachel Holcomb was 12th (5:37.70). Eeson also turned in a third place performance in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 52.95 and freshman Holli Pisarski followed in 10th (57.82).

Senior Jessica Shamburger gave the Cougars another win with a 57.93 finish in the 100-yard backstroke, while freshman Kimmie Ballo was sixth (1:00.68) and sophomore Rachel Johnson was 10th (1:12.64). Shamburger also turned in a sixth place finish in the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 2:09.19. Other swimmers included Ballo in ninth (2:10.32) and Johnson in 12th (2:34.38).

Another Cougar event win came in the 100-yard breaststroke. Sophomore Beccy Hillis turned in a time of 1:05.88, following up her win in the event a day ago. Other competitors include Pisarski in eighth (1:10.26), freshman Christine Salinas in ninth (1:12.46) and freshman Catherine Finley in 10th (1:17.74). Hillis completed the sweep of the breaststroke events with a time of 2:21.70 in the 200-yard event. Freshman Reka Kovacs was second in 2:24.57 and Finley was 11th (2:50.68).

Kovacs was a winner in the 400-yard IM with a time of 4:31.98 and sophomore Natalie Newcomb was fifth with a time of 4:38.45. Kovacs also finished fifth in the 1,000-yard freestyle with a time of 10:37.49 and Newcomb was sixth (10:50.96).

Junior Andrea Kells recorded a second place finish of 2:10.26 in the 200-yard butterfly and Newcomb trailed her in seventh (2:13.37) and Holcomb was 11th (2:32.37). Kells also notched a third place finish in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 58.67 and Ballo was 11th in 1:04.66. Houston also had three competitors in the 50-yard freestyle. Pisarski was 10th (26.42), Johnson as 11th (28.90) and Finley was 12th (29.93).

In the relay events, Houston finished second in the 200-yard medley with a time of 1:48.05. Members of that relay team included Shamburger, Hillis, Kells and Eeson. Houston's `B' team of Johnson, Finley, Holcomb and Bordatcheva finished 10th with a time of 2:08.31.

The final relay event of the day was the 400-yard freestyle relay. The `A' team of Shamburger, Salinas, Ballo and Hillis was fourth with a time of 3:41.78 and the `B' team of Bordatcheva, Kells, Pisarski and Kovacs was fifth with a time of 3:50.09.

UNCW defeated the Cougars in the overall standings 162-135, while the Cougars came up short against Emory 152-141.

Houston will be back in action Nov. 20-22 when they host the Cougar Classic Fall Invitational at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center Natatorium. Team scheduled to compete at the invitational include SMU, LSU, UNLV, Texas A&M, Arkansas, Tulane, Kansas and New Mexico.

Houston’s Cross Country Men’s and Women’s Teams Both Take Fifth at C-USA Championships

THE WOODLANDS, TEXAS (October 31, 2009) Nate Pineda, David Smith and Stephanie Aldea finished in the top 21 to secured Conference USA All-Conference honors to help the University of Houston men’s and women’s cross country teams finish in fifth place.

The men’s squad ran in a highly competitive field with defending champion and nationally ranked No. 29 Tulsa, UTEP, ranked No. 7 in the Mountain Region, and Rice, ranked No. 9 In the South Central Region.

With a combined score of 122, the Cougars made a one spot improvement from the 2008 championships. Sophomore Nate Pineda led the Cougar pack in the 8K, crossing the finish line at the 26:02 mark – good for 19th place. The San Antonio native made an 11 spot improvement from last year and shaved 52 seconds off of his time. Making his first appearance at the championship, freshman David Smith followed close behind finishing in 21st with a time of 26:10. Pineda’s and Smith’s time awarded them a place on the All-Conference Third Team.

Sophomores Anthony Jordon and Andres Santaolalla placed 26th and 27th, respectively, finishing with a time of 26:21. Both runners improved their time from last season by at least 30 seconds. Rounding out the top five was sophomore Cole Bessner with a time of 26:50 – good for 35th place.

The women’s team, tallying 138 points, also placed fifth, matching its best finish since 2002 when the Cougars claimed fourth place. Houston squared off against an equally competitive field, facing UTEP who is ranked No. 25 in the nation. The Cougars also ran against defending champion SMU, ranked No. 3 in the South Central Region, and Rice, ranked No. 5.

Sophomore Stephanie Aldea led the squad in 17th place in the 5K, crossing the finish line at 18:58. Aldea’s placement secured a spot on the All-Conference Third Team. Her award marked the second consecutive year that the Windsor, Ontario native received a conference honor, claiming the Freshman of the Year title at the 2008 championships.

Sophomore Starla Garcia finished second on the team in 25th place with a time of 19:27. Freshman Kathryn Ducommun, sophomore Brandi Witte and sophomore Megan Munoz rounded off the top five, finishing together. Ducommun finished the race in 19:45 minutes – good for 31st place. Witte claimed 32nd place with a time of 19:46. Running less than a second behind, Munoz finished in 33rd place.

The Cougars continue to the NCAA South Central Regional in Waco, Texas on Nov. 14 to contend for a bid to the NCAA Championships on Nov. 23 in Terra Haute, Ind.

Houston to Host Southern Miss in Conference USA Football Action

By Robert H. Kelly
Copyright 2009 TexSport Publications

HOUSTON, TEXAS (October 31, 2009) The University of Houston Cougars (6-1 overall, 2-1 in Conference USA) face off against the Southern Miss Eagles (5-3 overall, 3-1 in Conference USA) at Robertson Stadium on the campus of the University of Houston.

This will be the first meeting between Houston and Southern Miss since the 2006 Conference USA championship game in Houston and the first regular season meeting in Houston since a 25-24 Cougar victory on November 13, 2005.

The game was originally scheduled to be played on September 24, but was rescheduled to November 13 when Southeast Texas as the Greater Houston area was threatened by Hurricane Rita.

Houston has won the last two games played at home, defeating both SMU 38-14 last Saturday and Texas Tech 29-28 on September 26.

The Cougars have never defeated Southern Miss in Hattiesburg. The only victory in Mississippi occurred on November 9, 1957 in Jackson, Mississippi.

In the first Conference USA encounter between the schools in 1996, the Cougars prevailed 56-49, in overtime. The Cougars would go on to win its first Conference USA title with the win over Louisville.

Weather in Houston is projected to be sunny, clear and mild; with the temperature in the mid-60s. There is no chance of rain. Game time is set for noon CST.

Friday, October 30, 2009

UH Swimming, Diving Drops Dual Competition Against Duke, Georgia Tech

DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA (October 30, 2009) University of Houston swimming and diving team dropped duals against Duke and Georgia Tech Friday night at the Taishoff Aquatics Pavilion in Durham, N.C.

The Blue Devils topped the Cougars with a score of 188-110 and Georgia Tech came away with the 179-119 win. This was the first ever competition between the two schools in the pool.

Despite dropping the team scores, Houston still competed tough and finished with three pool records and six individual event wins.

"It was an outstanding meet overall," head coach Mark Taylor said. "We just need more depth to be able to finish off our competition. I was excited about our times today and I look forward to being able to compete against two good schools tomorrow."
Today was a learning experience and we swam against two great universities."

Continuing her domination on the diving board, senior Anastasia Pozdniakova set pool records in both the 1- and 3-meter competitions. The Russia native finished with an NCAA `A' mark of 344.85 in the 1-meter competition. She followed that up with a 368.25 finish in the 3-meter competition for another `A' mark.

Freshman Jessalyn Almond rounded out the diving competition with a 254.15 mark in the 3-meter and a 259.60 fifth-place finish in the 1-meter competition. Her 1-meter score was a NCAA `B' mark.

Sophomore Beccy Hillis set a third pool record at the competition. She turned in a first place finish of 2:16.80 in the 200-yard breaststroke, which was also an NCAA `B' time. After turning in a pool record finish in the 200-yard breaststroke, Hillis followed that up with a win of 1:04.03 in the 100-yard breaststroke. Freshmen Christine Salinas (10th), Holli Pisarski (11th) and Catherine Finley (12th) also competed in the event.

Ironically, Houston's three pool record set on the afternoon push the Houston total to five at the Taishoff Aquatics Pavilion. In 1978, Duke hosted the AIAW National Championship and Diane Johannigman set the pool record in the 100- and 200-yard butterfly and those records still stand today.

Freshman Reka Kovacs added another Cougar win with her 2:07.02 finish in the 200-yard IM. Hillis was fourth (2:09.88) and sophomore Natalie Newcomb was 11th (2:15.46) in the 200-yard IM.

Kovacs added a fourth place finish of 10:23.76 in the 1,000-yard freestyle. Newcomb was sixth (10:40.91) and sophomore Rachel Holcomb was ninth (11:36.12). Kovacs third event of the meet was a fourth place finish of 2:04.71 in the 200-yard backstroke. Freshman Kimmie Ballo turned in an eighth place finish (2:08.08) and sophomore Rachel Johnson was 11th (2:32.83).

Houston also recorded a win in the 200-yard freestyle when sophomore Kimberley Eeson turned in a 1:51.83 finish, while sophomore Olga Bordatcheva was 10th with a finish of 1:59.78. Eeson added a third place finish in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 52.13 and was followed in ninth by freshman Christine Salinas and Bordatcheva in 11th.

Eeson was also third in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 5:01.75. Bordatcheva trailed her in 10th (5:22.04) and Holcomb was 11th (5:44.01).

Senior Jessica Shamburger finished in second place in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 57.04. Teammates, freshman Kimmie Ballo and Johnson turned in 10th (1:01.00) and 11th (1:09.90) place finishes respectively.

The trio of junior Andrea Kells, Newcomb and Holcomb finished eighth, ninth and 10th in the 200-yard butterfly. Shamburger turned in an eighth place finish in the 50-yard butterfly, while Salinas was ninth and Pisarski was 11th. Kells was also eighth in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 58.71 and Ballo was 10th (1:03.58).

Houston's 400-yard medley relay team of Shamburger, Hillis, Kells and Eeson finished second with a time of 3:50.32. The `A' relay team of Shamburger, Salinas, Ballo and Kovacs were fifth in the 400-yard freestyle relay with a time of 3:40.55 and the `B' team of Pisarski, Bordatcheva, Kells and Johnson were eighth (3:54.34).

Houston will be back in action at 10 a.m. tomorrow for duals against UNC-Wilmington and Emory.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Cougars Kick off vs. Golden Eagles, at Noon, Saturday, at Robertson Stadium

HOUSTON, TEXAS (October 29, 2009) It will be an exciting time on the University of Houston campus this weekend as the 15th-ranked Cougar Football team plays host to Conference USA rival Southern Miss.

The Cougars kick off at noon, Saturday, against the Golden Eagles on John O'Quinn Field at Robertson Stadium. However, prior to Saturday's game, fans will have plenty of chances for fun and excitement around the stadium.

TRICK OR TREATING Children and their parents are invited to get a head start on trick-or-treating prior to Saturday's game. Children are invited to wear their scariest costumes to Robertson Stadium and can collect candy while treat-or-treating in Tailgate Village. In addition, prizes will be awards to those wearing the best costumes.

Saturday's game will be part of UH Day at Robertson Stadium. Students from any University of Houston satellite campus will be admitted free with a valid ID.

• The Cougar Walk will take place at 10 a.m. on the west side of the stadium (Scott Street) in Tailgate Village. Fans are invited to take part and welcome the Cougar Football team as players arrive at the stadium and make their way to the locker room.

• Cougar Authentic will not be open in the Athletics/Alumni Center on Saturday morning. Locations outside Gate 7 and Gate 8 will open at 9 a.m. Saturday's Item of the Game will be select Nike hats for only $15.

• Actors from the Mary Poppins Broadway musical will perform the National Anthem.

• Houston alumnus and actor Lou Martini, Jr. will serve as honorary captain. Martini has appeared on The Sopranos, Law and Order and The Godfather during his career.

• As part of the third annual Thanks for Giving campaign, fans can deliver non-perishable food items to the Star of Hope Mission truck at Gate 7.

For young fans, the Cougar Fun Zone is a great chance to play games and visit with current Cougar student-athletes. The Cougar Fun Zone is located in Tailgate Village near Gate 7 on the Scott Street side of Robertson Stadium.

Players from the Houston softball team will be in the Fun Zone, playing games with young fans, signing autographs and helping with face painting.

The Spirit of Houston will entertain with a special Halloween performance.

The Athletics Ticket Office will be open from 8 a.m., to 10 a.m., Saturday, in its first-floor office at the Athletics/Alumni Center. Officials will sell tickets at Gate 4 and Gate 11 at Robertson Stadium, beginning at 9:30 a.m.

The will call window is located between Gate 9 and Gate 10 at Robertson Stadium.

The Students Gate will open at 10 a.m., while gates for the general public will open at 10:30 a.m.

To order tickets before the game, fans can visit the Athletics Ticket Office (located on the first floor of the Athletics/Alumni Center, 3100 Cullen Blvd.), or call 713-GO-COOGS (462-6647) Monday through Friday, during regular business hours.

Fans always can purchase tickets to UH events, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by visiting and clicking the Tickets link.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Houston Jumps Out to 24-3 Lead at Halftime Over SMU

By Robert H. Kelly
Copyright 2009 TexSport Publications

HOUSTON, TEXAS (October 24, 2009) The Houston Cougars have jumped out to a 24-3 halftime lead over Conference USA rival SMU at Houston’s Robertson Stadium.

Play was virtually identical with the deference being third down conversions. Houston was able to convert 5 of 9, while SMU failed on seven attempts.

Houston first got on the scoreboard with a 20-yard Charles Sims run up the middle and a Matt Hogan kick to make the score 7-0.

With 1:58 left in the first quarter, quarterback Case Keenum handed the ball to Bryce Beall, who barreled into the end zone for the Cougars’ second touchdown. Hogan again kicked the conversion to make the score 14-0 at the end of 15 minutes.

At 12:44 left in the 2nd quarter, Hogan booted a 22 yard field goal to take the score 17-0.

SMU came back at 8:05 with a Matt Szymanski field goal from the 27 yard line to get the Mustangs’ first score.

Houston closed out the half on a 7 yard pass from Keenum to Patrick Edwards for their final score of the half.

Houston hit locker room at halftime leading 24-3, with 206 total yards of offense, 12 first downs, and 4 out of 4 red-zone scores.


By Robert H. Kelly
Copyright 2009 TexSport Publications

HOUSTON, TEXAS (October 24, 2009) The Houston Cougars look to improve on their 1-1 Conference USA record tonight as they take on rival SMU at Robertson Stadium.

Houston, who is coming off a 44-16 win over Tulane last Saturday and a 58-41 loss to UTEP on October 3, is 5-1 for the season.

SMU, who is 2-0 in conference play and 3-3 for the season, is coming off a 38-35 overtime loss to Navy. They have previously defeated University of Alabama at Birmingham 35-33 on September 12 and East Carolina 28-21 two weeks ago to lead Conference USA.

The Mustangs will have a tough time against Houston, who is averaging 44 points and 431 yards offensively a game.

Tonight’s game is the fifth straight season UH and SMU have faced off. Houston has won three straight in the current series and six of the last seven. Houston is 2-1 against the Mustangs in Robertson Stadium.

The Cougars and Mustangs met on a neutral field on November 26, 1983, when they played in the Mirage Bowl in Tokyo, Japan.

The last four meetings against SMU have been decided in the fourth quarter, with Houston rallying for wins in 2006, ands 2008, holding on for a win in 2007 and losing a lead in 2005.

While members of the now defunct Southwest Conference, Houston posted a 10-7-1 record against SMU.

Houston and SMU have only met twice while not conference foes; on September 27, 1975, in a game SMU won 26-16, and September 20, 2000, in which the Cougars won 17-15.

Game time is set for 6:34pm CDT and will be broadcast on CBS College Sports.

Monday, October 05, 2009

USA Gymnastics Names Teams for 2009 World Championships

HUNTSVILLE, TEXAS (October 5, 2009) 2008 Olympic team silver-medalist and 2009 U.S. all-around champion Bridget Sloan of Pittsboro, Ind., Sharp's Gymnastics; Rebecca Bross of Plano, Texas, WOGA Gymnastics; Ivana Hong of Lovejoy, Texas, WOGA Gymnastics; and Kayla Williams of Nitro, W.V., Gym Nest Inc., will represent the United States on the U.S. Women’s Team at the 2009 World Championships, Oct. 13-18, in London, England.

The alternates are Kytra Hunter of Frederick, Md., Hill's Gymnastics and Mackenzie Caquatto, Naperville, Ill., Naperville Gymnastics Club.

The format for this year’s World Championships features all-around and individual event competition. The U.S. Women’s Team was selected based on performances at the 2009 Visa Championships in Dallas, Texas, and two U.S. Women’s Team Selection Camps, which were held at USA Gymnastics Women’s National Team Training Center in Huntsville, Texas.

Sloan, a member of the 2008 silver-medal winning Olympic Team, won her first U.S. all-around title, as well as the uneven bars and floor exercise crowns, at the 2009 Visa Championships in August. 2008 Olympic Team alternate Hong finished a close second in the all-around and won the U.S. balance beam title. 2007 U.S. junior champion Bross was third in the all-around. Williams won the vault title at the 2009 Visa Championships.

The competition will be held at the O2, the gymnastics venue at the 2012 Olympic Games. Qualification rounds determine advancement to the all-around and apparatus finals. The top 24 men and women compete in the all-around finals on Oct. 15-16. For individual events, the top eight on each apparatus from the qualification rounds advance to the finals (Oct. 17-18).

The U.S. Men’s Team for the World Championships was named earlier and is comprised of: Jake Dalton, Sparks, Nev./University of Oklahoma; Wes Haagensen, Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Olympic Training Center; Jonathan Horton, Houston/Cypress Gymnastics Academy; Steven Legendre, Flower Mound, Texas/University of Oklahoma; Danell Leyva, Miami/Universal Gymnastics; and Tim McNeill, Falls Church, Va./University of California – Berkeley.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

UH Soccer Notches First Tie of the Season Against SMU in Double Overtime

DALLAS, TEXAS (October 5, 2009) In a televised match by CBS College Sports, the University of Houston soccer team notched its first tie of the season in double overtime against the SMU Mustangs Sunday afternoon on Westcott Field.

The knot puts Houston at 3-7-1, 1-2-1 on the season and SMU records a 4-6-1, 1-2-1. With the all-time series standing at 0-9-1 in SMU’s favor, this is the first time in program history that the Mustangs were not able to garner a win over the Cougars.

On the verge of a scoreless first half, the Mustangs broke the deadlock at the 39:42 mark when freshman midfielder Allegra Nigh collected the rebound off a free kick and sent the ball into the net.

After play resumed, Houston tied the game in the 81st minute when senior defender Stephanie Beyelia passed to the top of the box to freshman midfielder Avery Blasi who put the ball in the top corner of the net. Blasi recorded her second goal of the season while Beyelia tallied her first career assist.

The score remained a stalemate for the duration of the game, as neither team was able to draw more blood in the first or second overtime period.

The Cougars return home next weekend for their last home stand of the season. The campaign features four games - three will be played on soccer's home field, Robertson Stadium, with the last tilt at the Carl Lewis Complex, the team's practice facility.