HOUSTON - University of Houston guards Damyean Dotson and Rob Gray, Jr., posted 13 points apiece to lead the Cougars to a 69-56 win over American Athletic Conference rival Cincinnati on Thursday inside Hofheinz Pavilion during Senior Night.
Gray finished with 13 points, thanks to a 5-of-5 effort from the free throw line, and dished out a team-high four assists with only one turnover. Dotson buried a team-high three treys and led the Cougar with seven rebounds.
With the win, the Cougars improved to 22-8 overall and finished the regular season with a 12-6 record in American Athletic Conference play. The Cougars clinched the No. 2 seed at next week's American Athletic Conference Championship inside the Amway Center in Orlando.
Houston also enjoyed only the second victory against Cincinnati in program history, ending a 15-game losing streak to the Bearcats and taking their first win since a 90-85 decision on Feb. 2, 1973.
To date, the Cougars are the only team to defeat all their American Athletic Conference rivals in league play this season. No. 1 seed Temple has the chance to equal the Cougars' accomplishment on Sunday against Tulane in the regular-season finale for both teams.
Prior to Thursday's game, the Cougars honored four student-athletes as part of Senior Night. Guards LeRon Barnes, Eric Weary, Jr., and L.J. Rose and forward Devonta Pollard and their families were recognized prior to the game and were presented gifts from the program.
Although Houston enjoyed its ninth win in the last 11 games, Cincinnati grabbed the momentum early, hitting three straight 3-pointers to open the game and build a 9-2 lead. The Bearcats eventually held a 15-10 advantage when Coreontae DeBerry grabbed an offensive rebound and laid it up with 11:38 left in the first half.
However, that was when the Cougars made their move. Houston outscored the Bearcats 20-2 over the next 9:34 to build a 30-17 lead with 2:04 remaining. Gray, who entered the game as the league's scoring leader, led the Cougar rally with seven points.
Houston eventually took a 33-20 lead into the locker room and halftime and built as much as a 16-point advantage early in the second half.
Cincinnati rallied on several occasions but would get no closer than seven points the rest of the way. The Bearcats moved to within 57-50 following a pair of free throws from Gary Clark with 2:52 remaining, but Houston freshman point guard Galen Robinson, Jr., took the inbounds pass and outraced the Cincinnati defense to the bucket, drawing a foul from DeBerry.
The Bearcats close the game to 62-55 on a Troy Caupain layup with 2:22 left, but the Cougars scored seven unanswered points to ice the win.
Playing in his final regular-season game inside Hofheinz Pavilion, Pollard added 11 points with five rebounds.
Caupain led Cincinnati with 19 points and topped all players with five assists, while guard Jacob Evans finished with 14 points. Ellis added 11 points with nine rebounds, while Clark recorded a game-high 13 rebounds in the loss.
Following Thursday's game, the Cougars head into the postseason with the American Conference Championship Quarterfinals inside Amway Center in Orlando.
The Cougars earned a First-Round bye and will open tournament play at 6 p.m. (CST), Friday, March 11, against the winner of the No. 7 seed UCF-No. 10 seed TBD game in the Quarterfinals.
HOW to BUY TICKETS
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.
AMERICAN CHAMPIONSHIP TICKETS
All-Session passes for the 2016 American Athletic Conference Championship are now on sale. The league's annual postseason event will be held March 10-13 inside the Amway Center in Orlando.
All-Session passes begin at $175 for every game of the tournament. Fans can purchase All-Session passes to the 2016 American Athletic Conference Championship 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.