GREENVILLE, N.C.- University of Houston sophomore guard Rob Gray Jr., tied his career high with 31 points, and sophomore guard Wes VanBeck came off the bench late to pour in 11 points in nine minutes as the Cougars outlasted East Carolina 97-93 in double overtime inside Minges Coliseum on Saturday afternoon.
With the win, the Cougars won their second straight game and improved to 15-6 overall and 5-4 in American Athletic Conference play. East Carolina saw its two-game winning streak end and fell to 10-12 overall and 2-7 in league play.
Houston built as much as an 11-point lead late in the first half, but East Carolina closed out the first half on a 15-2 run over the final 3:52 to take a 35-32 lead into the locker room at the break.
The two teams went back and forth throughout the second half before the Cougars seemed to seize control of the game with a 74-67 lead with just under two minutes remaining in regulation. However, the Pirates took advantage of two 3-pointers from Prince Williams and knotted the game at 75-75 when Caleb White sank another trey with 29 seconds remaining.
Houston had a chance to win the game in regulation but was unable to get a shot off due to a turnover, and an ECU desperation heave was off the mark to force overtime.
In the first extra period, East Carolina grabbed an 80-77 lead when Williams sank a 3-pointer with just more than three minutes left. However, the Cougars roared back to tie the game on VanBeck's first 3-pointer of the night and grabbed an 82-80 lead when Damyean Dotson snared an offensive rebound and put it back in for na 82-80 Houston lead with 88 seconds left.
With the score tied at 82-82, senior forward Devonta Pollard gave the Cougars an 84-82 lead with a jumper with 44 seconds to go. On the ensuing possession, East Carolina's Michael Zangari was fouled with 29 seconds left and made both free throws to set the stage for overtime after Houston's trey at the buzzer missed.
East Carolina scored the first points of double overtime but the Cougars used an 8-2 run with two 3-pointers from VanBeck and a layup by Galen Robinson, Jr. to take a 92-88 lead with 2:29 remaining.
The Pirates moved to within 92-91 following B.J. Tyson's 3-pointer, but ECU's shooting went cold from there. While he Cougars were unable to build their lead as much as they would have liked, three players each made 1-of-2 free throws to give Houston a 95-91 lead with 30 seconds remaining.
Williams moved the Pirates to within 95-93 on an offensive putback with 17 seconds left, but Pollard made 1-of-2 free throws for a 96-93 lead, and ECU's final trey attempt was off the mark to ice the win.
Gray became 31st player in school history with multiple 30+ point games during his career after posting 31 against LSU inside Hofheinz Pavilion on Dec. 13. The Forest City, N.C., native hit 11-of-21 shots, including 6-of-11 from behind the arc, and led all players with four steals.
Gray pushed his American Athletic Conference scoring lead to 17.6 points per game but was forced to leave the game midway through the first overtime period with an ankle injury.
After playing one minute through the end of regulation, VanBeck finished with 11 points on 3-of-3 shooting from the 3-point line and 2-of-4 from the charity stripe in nine minutes of overtime and double overtime.
Junior guard Damyean Dotson posted 23 points and led all players with 13 rebounds for this team-leading fifth double-double of the season. It was the second time this season that he and Gray each scored 20+ points in a game and the most recent since each score 21 points in a double-overtime win against Wyoming during the Global Sports Classic Championship Rounds on Dec 22. Robinson added 12 points with a team-high seven assists and three steals.
Tyson led East Carolina with 20 points and added three rebounds and five steals. Williams totaled 19 points with six rebounds and six assists, and White recorded 17 points with five rebounds and a game-high eight assists Kentrell Barkley posted 14 point with five boards, and Michael Zangari added 13 points with a team-high eight rebounds in the loss.
Following Saturday's game, the Cougars take on No. 13/NR SMU at 7 p.m., Monday inside Hofheinz Pavilion. That game will be part of a special celebration for the 2015 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl champion Houston Football team.
Football Head Coach Tom Herman will address the crowd inside Hofheinz Pavilion at halftime, and the Football team will be presented the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl championship trophy on Guy V. Lewis Court. Tickets start at only $5 and can be purchased here.
In addition, the first 1,000 fans through the doors receive a FREE Houston Fans parking sign, courtesy of Koch.
Following Houston Football's recognition, fans should stick around the court for halftime for an exciting promotion. A fan who makes a layup, free throw and 3-pointer in a selected time receives a FREE Lasik procedure, courtesy of nJoy Vision at the University of Houston College of Optometry
In addition, all fans with ticket stubs in the winning fan's seating section will receive a $500 off per eye coupon from nJoy Vision at the University of Houston College of Optometry.
From the, Houston closes out the regular-season series against Tulsa when it faces the Golden Hurricane at 2 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 7, inside Reynolds Center.
HOW TO ORDER TICKETS
Fans have a variety of ticket options to accommodate any budget. Season tickets, group tickets, single-game tickets and 3-Point Packs are on sale now. To purchase tickets or for complete information, fans can visit uhcougars.com/tickets and follow the appropriate links or click here.
Fans also can call 713-GO-COOGS (462-6647) or visit the Athletics Ticket Office from 10 a.m., to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. To purchase tickets in person, fans can visit the Athletics Ticket Office located on the northeast corner of TDECU Stadium, just outside of Gate 1 off Cullen Boulevard. Parking is available in the TDECU Stadium parking garage with the first 30 minutes free of charge.
Single-game tickets for Houston Men's Basketball's 2015-16 season begin at only $5 per game. Fans can purchase General Admission single-game tickets for only $5, while Reserved 2 seating is available for only $10 per game. Fans may buy Reserved 1 single-game tickets for $15 per ticket.
Fans can purchase single-game tickets by clicking here.
Fans can purchase three tickets to Houston home games in the 3-Point Pack. Reserved 1 seating for the 3-Point Pack can be purchased for $40 with Reserved seating available for only $30.
Fans can purchase the 3-Point Pack by clicking here.
Tickets for groups of 10-24 or more can be purchased for as low as $12 per ticket in Reserved 2 for 18 regular-season home games inside Hofheinz Pavilion. Groups of more than 25 people can buy Reserved 2 tickets for only $10 per ticket
Groups of 10-24 can buy tickets for only $10 per ticket in Reserved 2 with prices plummeting to only $6 per ticket for groups of 25 or more.
Administrators can find more information about group tickets seating and pricing by clicking here.
Fans can receive the latest news and notes by following @UHCougarMBK on Twitter. Fans also can discuss the latest Houston Men's Basketball news and notes on the team's Facebook page by clicking LIKE at HoustonCougarMensHoops.