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NCAA Div. I Women: Houston Defeats New Mexico State -- January 13, 2003

LAS CRUCES, N.M., Jan. 13. THE University of Houston women's team evened its record on a three-day road trip with a 131.5 - 111.5 win over New Mexico State on Saturday at the NMSU Natatorium.

One day after falling at New Mexico, the Cougars (3-3) roared back to even their season record in dual meets.

No men's meets were swum on either day, as all three schools have abolished their men's programs, ostensibly for budgetary and/or Title IX compliance reasons.

For the second meet in a row, the UH divers led the way for the Cougars with senior Yulia Pakhalina displaying the form that has made her a three-time NCAA national champion. The Penza, Russia, native took top honors on the 3-meter board with a score of 344.35 points and placed first in the 1-meter event with 360.00 points.

She was the only diver to score more than 300 points in both events. In addition, she recorded the 53rd and 54th diving wins of her collegiate career in 56 outings.

Redshirt freshman Azul Almazan was equally impressive, finishing behind Pakhalina in each event. The Mexico City, Mexico native scored 298.95 points and 289.42 points on the 3-meter and 1-meter boards, respectively.

The Cougars swimmers also made their presence felt in the water as three student-athletes recorded five first-place finishes. Junior Lucile Turpin and freshman Stacey Williams each posted a pair of first-place finishes.

Turpin led the way for the Cougars in the distance events, recording a time of 11:06.54 in the 1,000-yard freestyle and a time of 5:19.57 in the 500-yard freestyle. Williams, a two-time Conference USA Swimmer of the Week honoree, placed first in the 400-yard individual medley with a time of 4:43.22 and was first in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 59.83, making her the only swimmer to crack the 1-minute mark.

The Cougars were especially dominant in the 100-yard backstroke, sweeping the top three spots. Jessica DeWitt topped the Cougars with a time of 1:02.21, but Jessica Blake was a close second at 1:02.50. Falon Hopkins placed third in the event with a time of 1:02.37.

The Cougars' 400-yard freestyle relay team capped the day with a resounding win in that event. Shawn Toliver, Hopkins, Turpin and Kristin Bay combined to post a time of 3:42.54 and lead all teams.

UH returns home to play host to LSU at 4 p.m. Friday at the UH Natatorium. The dual meet will mark the final home appearances for Pakhalina, Hopkins, Blake and senior diver Veronica Smith.