The 1994-95 season began with lots of promise for the
Houston Lady Cougars.
After all, they were returning two starters, an All American
Candidate, had signed top transfer prospects and signed a freshman out of
Chicago that many were calling the "female version of Charles Barkley."
But not all went as planned for the Cougars early on as Houston
began the season with just seven players.
Returning 1994 letterman Antoinette "Poochie" Isaac, Pat Luckey
and Traci Bell were out of action due to serving academic suspensions
during the fall semester. Top Arizona State transfer Stacey Johnson was
not eligible to join the team until mid-December because of transfer rules.
And other top transfer prospect, center Nakia Hill from Georgia, tore her
anterior cruciate ligament in a preseason practice, ending her season before
Nevertheless, the Cougars, as few as there were, quickly jumped
out to an impressive 3-1 record. But in all fairness to its opponents,
Houston was, however, beating up on the likes of pansies Detroit (81-80),
Prairie View A&M (8345) and Lamar (83-45).
"We really haven't been testea yet," coach Jessie Kenlaw said in
the wake of the Cougars' win over Lamar's Lady Cardinals Dec. 6 in
Hofheinz Pvilion. "The teams we played so far this year have sort of helped
So it seemed a "challenge" was what Houston was looking for.
And three days later on Dec. 9, coach Cheryl Miller brought her
No. 24 Southern California Lady Trojans into Hofheinz for a Friday evening
showdown. Even though the game was back and fourth battle, USC pulled
away in contest's latter moments, claiming an 87-72 victory.
However, things started looking up for the Cougars when
Johnson finally made her UH debut on Dec. 17 against the Stephen F.
Austin Lady Lumberjacks. In a slim 98-96 loss, Johnson poured in what
was then a career-high 33 points.
The 5-9 native of Antioch, Ca. followed that performance up with
a 20-point output against No. 7 Penn State (Dec. 21), a 21-point effort
against Nevada-Las Vegas (Dec. 22) and a 25-point outburst vs, Ball State
And on Jan. 2, Johnson and former Pacific-10 Conference rival
Tanda Rucker (Stanford) lit up the No. 17 Kansas Jayhawks ih Hofheinz
for 32 and 28 points, respectively, as Houston was again norrowly
defeated, this time 99-98.
Despite the high offensive production from Johnson, the Cougars
were just 5-6 heading into Southwest Conference play with an opening
contest against crosstown -rival Rice in Hofheinz.
The great news surrounding the return of the 1994 Freshman All-
American.Luckey, did not seem to boost Houston enough as the Owls
escaped with an 88-87 victory following a fadeaway jumper from Rice
guard Kim LaLonde with just four seconds left.
In fact, the Cougars dropped three of their first four SWC games
giving up an average of an even 88 points in three defeats.
But a Cougar's six-game winning streak soon afterward was the
team's longest since 1991, when it won nine straight to open up that
The victory in Dallas on Jan. 28 proved to be the best offensive
game from the Johnson/Luckey combination as the two eventual first-
team All-SWC players combined to score 53 points. Houston beat the
Longhorns on Feb. 2 for just the second time in 52 career meetings as
Johnson scored a career-high 37 points.
For the season, Johnson averaged 20.6 points per game while
Luckey scored 18.6. During the winning streak, either Johnson or Luckey
led the team in scoring, with the latter being the leading scorer in four of those
A Feb. 15 contest with the then-No. 7, first-place Texas Tech Lady
Raiders offered the Cougars a chance to set a new school record for most
consecutive conference victories with six (Houston had won six games overall
in a row, but one of those was a non-conference game).
But once again, the Cougars failed to knock off nationally ranked
competition ranked competition as the Raiders escaped with 78-76 decision
Houston fell to a 6-4 league record and a half-game behind the then-
No. 23 Texas A&M Lady Aggies for second place in the conference.
So if the Cougars wanted any chances of taking over sole possession
o f the second spot and finally getting a chance to beat a ranked opponent, they
would have to do it on the home floor of the Aggies' G. Rollie White Coliseum
just three days later on Feb. 18.
With just three seconds left, freshman Jennifer Jones made both ends
of a one-and-one situation to sink both free throws and preserve a 78-75
triumph over the eventual 1995 National Women's InvitationalToumament
It was a clutch performance that didn't seem to phase Jones, as the
17-year-old led the conference in rebounding (8.6 per game) and was also
named SWC Co-Freshman of the Year. The Chicago native also averaged 11.1
points in being the first freshman in UH history to lead the league in the
But while the A&M victory, "looked like (the Cougars) had just won
the World Series," as described by one observer, the three-game losing streak
that followed just afterward looked like Houston was back in basic training.
The Cougars lost games to Baylor, SMU and Texas to fall from grace
and to fourth place in the conference with a 7-7 final regular season SWC record
before heading into the conference tournament in Dallas on March 8-11.
And during those contests, Houston was beaten by an average of
18.3 points. In just 11 days, the Cougars had gone from possibly cracking the
Top 25 and receiving a hands-down, at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament
to needing to win the Postseason Classic where an exit at any time might have
not been good enough to even get into the NWIT.
In 'Big D' onMarch 8, Houston returned to the scene at SMU'sMoody
Coliseum where Luckey, Johnson and the rest of the Cougars had so handily
defeated the eventual NCAA-bound Mustangs by 10 almost six weeks prior.
The dimly-lighted arena was the scene of an all-Houston first round
matchup between Houston and the fifth-place Owls. Following Rice's one-
point victory in Hofheinz to begin the SWC season, the Cougars returned the
favor with a one-point decision of their own (69-68) in Autry Court on Feb. 7.
But this one wasn't even close. Amidst the dim lights, Houston
turned out the lights on the Owls as the former rolled to a 77-48 victory.
The outcome sent a serious message to second-round opponent
Texas Tech and head coach Marsha Sharp when Sharp remarked, "Houston
played so well today. I think they might have something to prove.
The Cougars indeed had something to prove, but the then-No. 6 Lady
Raiders didn't seem to care.
In that Friday's contest, Tech quickly jumped out to a 37-11 lead
before Houston struck back to go on a run of its own (46-23) and cut the
Raiders' deficit to 5248 with 16:47 left to play in the game.
54 as it held Houston scoreless over the next nine minutes. ,
The game and, as it turned out, the season was over. The 90-69 rinar
gave the Cougars a 14-14 record as Houston, for the next two days, would wait
on word as to if it would be invited into the NWIT.
Sunday, March 12, Kenlaw waited by the phone.
But it never rang.
The season was, indeed, over. Jason Paul Ramirez