Nov. 14, 2006
Kingston, R.I. - Senior guard Oliver Lafayette made UH head coach Tom Penders' return to Rhode Island a successful one when he nailed a 26-foot three-point shot from the right key in the final second of overtime to give the University of Houston a 102-99 comeback victory on Monday night.
Penders, who coached the Rams in 1986-88, was honored by the Rhode Island Fast Break Club last Saturday night and honored Monday night during pre-game introductions after he led the Rams to the NCAA Elite Eight in 1988 and posted a 48-17 record in his two seasons at the school.
The Rams tried to spoil the ceremony when they jumped out to a 10-point lead in the second half and were leading 90-86 with 16 remaining in regulation.
Junior college transfer Robert McKiver, who scored a game-high 33 points in his Cougar debut, began Houston's comeback when he hit two free throws after being fouled while bringing the ball up against Rhode Island's pressure defense.
Following McKiver's second free throw, Rhode Island turned the ball over while trying to bring the ball in to give the Cougars a chance to tie the score. After Sam Anderson missed a jump shot, Robert Lee made a lay-up to tie the score with one second left to send the game into overtime.
The Cougars jumped out to a quick 94-90 lead when Marcus Malone, who tallied 25 points in his Cougar debut, hit a jump shot from the left baseline. Then, Lafayette made a jumper after he stole the ball from Rhode Island's Parfait Bitee.
Rhode Island answered as Will Daniels scored five straight points on a three-point shot from the top of the key and a lay-up to give the Rams a 95-94 lead with 1:21 remaining in overtime.
After Lafayette and Malone made two free throws each, McKiver hit the first of his two free throws to give the Cougars a 99-97 lead with 30 seconds left. Rhode Island's Jimmy Baron, the son of URI's head coach Jim Baron, hit a jumper in the lane with 16 seconds to tie the score, 99-99, with 16 seconds left.
Lafayette held onto the ball at the top of the key until two seconds remained when he let go of a high-arching shot the hit nothing but the bottom of the net as the buzzer sounded to win Houston's 2006-07 season-opening game.
In addition to 58 combined point by McKiver and Malone, Lafayette finished with 20 points and senior forward Jahmar Thorpe added 12 points and a team-high seven rebounds before fouling out with 4:41 left in regulation.
Baron led Rhode Island with 19 points, while Bitee and Kahiem Seawright added 18 points each. Seawright also pulled down 19 rebounds, Mbang finished with 13 points.
The Cougars play their first home game this season against Monmouth this Saturday afternoon at 2:05 p.m. in Hofheinz Pavilion. The game can be heard live on the UHCougars.com website, but will not be broadcast on radio because of a conflict with the UH football game at Memphis, which begins at 1:00 p.m. on 790 "The Sports Animal."