HOUSTON -Alandise Harris and Jonathon Simmons posted 19 points apiece, and the University of Houston men's basketball team held off a late rally in an 82-76 win against Conference USA rival East Carolina on Saturday night inside Hofheinz Pavilion.
The Cougars led wire-to-wire and built a 74-50 lead with 7:46 remaining when Simmons converted a layup. However, the Pirates used a 25-2 run during the next 5:23 and moved to within 76-75 when Robert Sampson - son of former Houston Rocket Ralph Sampson - buried a jumper with 2:23 left in the game.
Following a missed Cougar shot, ECU had two chances to take their first lead of the night but Sampson and Darius Morrow each missed short shots in the paint. Harris was fouled after grabbing a defensive rebound with 1:12 left in the game, and the Little Rock, Ark., native made his first attempt to give the Cougars a 77-75 advantage.
ECU guard Miguel Paul was fouled on the ensuing possession but made only 1-of-2 free throw attempts. Freshman forward TaShawn Thomas missed a layup on the Cougars' next trip down the court, but Harris grabbed the offensive rebound and was fouled to go back to the charity stripe.
Harris hit both attempts to give Houston a 79-76 lead with 55 seconds left. Thomas added another free throw 14 seconds later and, following multiple missed Pirate 3-pointers, dunked the ball with one second left for the final margin of victory.
Harris finished with 19 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field and 8-of-10 shooting from the free throw line. Simmons totaled 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting with seven rebounds and three assists. With 17 points and 12 rebounds, Thomas recorded his team-leading fourth double-double of the season.
Redshirt freshman guard and Yates High product Joseph Young scored four points and added a career-high 11 rebounds with five assists and only one turnover in 28 minutes.
With the win, the Cougars snapped a four-game losing streak and improved to 10-9 overall and 2-4 in league games. East Carolina fell to 9-9 overall and 0-5 in C-USA games.
Paul led East Carolina with 23 points, including four 3-pointers, while Shamarr Bowden and Erin Straughn each added 12 points. Sampson led the Pirates with 12 rebounds.
The Cougars will take a break from their game schedule before closing out the month of January at 7 p.m., Saturday against UTEP.
From there, the team will embark on a six-day, road swing when they play at UAB (Feb. 1) and at Tulane (Feb. 4).
Fans can hear all Cougar Basketball games live on SportsTalk 790 AM with Tom Franklin calling the play-by-play action and Cougar legend Elvin Hayes providing analysis. The pregame show is slated to begin 15 minutes before tipoff.
Fans can follow live scoring by clicking the "GameTracker" link at UHCougars.com.
Fans also can hear live audio and watch live video via Cougar All-Access at UHCougars.com. Fans should note that a charge is required to watch and hear streamed games on-line.
Single-game tickets are now on sale at the Houston Athletics Ticket Office. Fans can purchase their tickets by calling 713-GO-COOGS (462-6647) or by visiting UHCougars.com and clicking the Tickets tab and following the appropriate links or by clicking the Tickets link here.