Feb. 28, 2009
HOUSTON - Trailing by eight with just more than five minutes remaining, the University of Houston men's basketball team closed out the game with a 15-2 run to take a 56-51 win against crosstown- and Conference USA-rival Rice on Saturday afternoon inside Tudor Fieldhouse.
Rice grabbed a 49-41 advantage with 5:22 remaining when Trey Stanton connected on a pair of free throws, tying for its largest lead of the game. However, that would be the final points the Owls would score until only 46 seconds were left in the contest.
Junior guard Kelvin Lewis started the rally with a jumper and converted a layup on an old-fashioned 3-point play after forcing Aleks Perka into a turnover. Following a missed Rice jumper, senior center Marcus Cousin was fouled and converted both free throws to pull the Cougars to within 49-48 with 3:49 left.
Both teams traded missed jumpers, and junior guard Aubrey Coleman gave the Cougars the lead for good with a jumper with 2:28 left. After Lewis stole the ball from Rice's Bryan Beasley, Coleman rebounded a missed layup and converted the basket for a 3-point Cougar advantage.
Again both teams missed jumpers on the ensuing possession, but Perka's layup pulled the Owls to within 52-51 with 46 seconds left. With the shot clock winding down, Coleman was off the mark with a jumper, but sophomore guard Zamal Nixon rebounded the missed shot with only 19 seconds remaining, forcing Rice to foul him.
Nixon connected on both free throw attempts to give the Cougars a 54-51 lead with 14 seconds to go. On the ensuing possession, Rice's Cory Pflieger was fouled but missed the front end of the 1-and-1. Cousin was fouled after hauling in the rebound and nailed both of his free throw attempts for the final margin of victory.
With the win, the Cougars improved to 18-9 overall and 9-5 in league games and won its sixth straight game against the Owls. Rice dropped 9-19 overall and 4-10 in league games.
In an ugly game at times, the Cougars used solid defense down the stretch and steady free throw shooting throughout the contest to take the win. Despite shooting only 29.5 percent (18-of-61) and 1-of-13 from behind the 3-point line, the Cougars forced 14 Rice turnovers and turned them into 14 points of their own.
Meanwhile, the Cougars' careful handling of the ball led to only seven UH giveaways, leading to just two points.
In addition, the Cougars buried 19-of-22 free throw attempts. Mosley connected on all three of his attempts from the charity stripe, pushing his streak to 16 straight made free throws, while Nixon buried all five of his.
Coleman recorded 12 points and 12 rebounds to post his team-leading 10th double-double of the season. Junior center Nick Mosley was impressive off the bench, scoring a career-high 11 points while grabbing nine rebounds, including eight off the offensive glass.
Lewis and Nixon both finished with 10 points to pace the Cougar offense.
Stanton scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead the Owls in both categories. He was the only Owl to reach double digits in scoring. With Lewis as his primary defender, Rice leading scorer and guard Rodney Foster was limited to only five points on 1-of-5 shooting and fouled out in 24 minutes of action.
NEXT HOME GAME FOR HOUSTON
The Cougars wrap up the regular season with a pair of home games during the final week of the regular season. UH plays host to No. 5/4 Memphis at 7 p.m., Wednesday, and then close out the regular season at 7 p.m., March 7, against Conference USA-rival SMU during Senior Day. Both games will be played inside Hofheinz Pavilion on the UH campus.
Fans can purchase their tickets by calling 713-GO-COOGS or by stopping by the Athletics Ticket Office in the Athletics/Alumni Center during regular business hours, Monday through Friday. Fans always can purchase tickets by visiting UHCougars.com and clicking on the Tickets links.
For Wednesday's game against Memphis, doors are scheduled to open at 5:30 p.m., and UH students are encouraged to arrive early. Student guest tickets go on sale Monday morning in the Athletics Ticket Office. Students can purchase up to four guest tickets with their valid Cougar 1 ID.
Students get in free at the Cullen Street entrance with their valid Cougar 1 ID
In addition to student seating, plenty of good seats remain available for the Memphis game for only $20. Fans can order tickets on-line, 24 hours a day, seven days at week, at UHCougars.com, or by calling 713-GO-COOGS.
Free admission is available to approved groups of 10 or more people for the remaining March 7 game against Conference USA-rival SMU on March 7. For more information, please call the Marketing Office at 713-743-9453.