Jan. 2, 2008
AMHERST, Mass. - It was a tale of two halves for the University of Houston men's basketball team as the University of Massachusetts defeated the Cougars 95-89 Wednesday night at the Mullins Center.
Playing in their first road game of the season, the Cougars played a near perfect first half when they jumped out to a 48-37 lead at halftime. Defensively, Houston held the Minutemen to just 40 percent shooting from the field, including 20 percent (3-15) behind the three-point line. On the offensive end, the Cougars shot 52 percent from the field and held a 22-19 rebounding advantage at the intermission.
The game began with Houston's Dion Dowell being called for an intentional foul when he went up to stop Etienne Brower's lay-up attempt. Brower made one of his two free throws before Robert McKiver stole the ball away from Ricky Harris and passed to Dowell for a slam-dunk to give the Cougars a 2-1 lead. The Cougars never trailed the rest of the half as Tafari Toney and McKiver ended the opening period with 10 points each.
In the second half, Houston extended its lead to 13 when Lanny Smith drove the lane for a lay-up and passed to Toney for a jumper to make the score 52-39 with 18:03 left to play.
But, the tone of the game changed the rest of the way as Houston was whistled for 19 personal fouls in the second half. UMass also shot 53.1 percent from the field after making 13 lay-ups. The Minutemen also shot 29 free throws, making 21 after attempting just 11 in the opening period.
UMass regained a 71-70 lead with 8:40 left to play as Chris Lowe grabbed a rebound on the defensive end and raced down court for a lay-up. The two teams fought back and forth the rest of the way until the Minutemen took control in the final 71 seconds.
Dowell scored Houston's final points in the game on his second straight three-point shot from the left wing to tie the score at 89-89 with 1:11 left to play.
Gary Forbes made two free throws on the Minutemen's next possession and after McKiver missed a fall-away jumper, Chris Lowe made two more free throws to extend the lead to 93-89.
Houston's Lanny Smith attempted a three-point shot from the right wing that came up short and Tony Gaffney made one of his two free throws for the Minutemen.
Brower added another free throw to make the final score 95-89.
The Minutemen (11-2), who won their sixth straight, were led by Forbes with 19 points, Brower and Chris Lowe with 18 each and Ricky Harris with 16. Brower also had a team-high eight rebounds.