Nov. 18, 2007
San Juan, Puerto Rico -
University of Houston senior guard Robert McKiver scored a career-high 37 points and tied his own school record of nine three-point field goals to lead the University of Houston men's basketball team to an 84-69 victory over the College of Charleston at the ESPNU Puerto Rico Tip-Off Sunday afternoon. The victory clinched a fourth-place finish for Houston at the tournament.
"I was real pleased in that we played three games in four days, and I felt we got better in every day" Houston head coach Tom Penders said. "We faced different styles of basketball in each game.
"Today it was a little more wide-open and we played great team basketball. We only had eight turnovers against a team that forced Temple into 19 turnovers Friday night. Whenever they went to the press, we did a great job of attacking it and scoring."
"We also shared the basketball on offense. Even though (Robert) McKiver had 37 points, guys were feeding him when he was hot and then other guys took their turn breaking down their defense. We got a lot out of this tournament."
The game began with Charleston hitting four of their first five shots of the game to open up a 10-4 lead. Charleston had made 10 of its first 13 shots, but turned the ball over eight times to help the Cougars stay close.
That also was when McKiver took over. The senior guard closed the first half making six three-point field goals, jumper in the lane and a lay-up.
"I am a scorer and that was what I did," McKiver said. "All of my shots felt good in the first half even when I missed, so I just kept shooting."
He ended the half with 25 points to lead Houston to a 41-31 halftime lead. Dion Dowell scored six points in the opening period, while Tafari Toney and Zamal Nixon added four points each and Marcus Cousin netted two.
In the second half, Lanny Smith hit Dowell for three-point basket to extend Houston's lead to 44-31.
Charleston fought back to within seven as Tony White, Jr. hit a pair of three-point shots of his own, Jermaine Johnson hit a jumper from the left wing and Donovan Monroe added a lay-up off a steal.
After Houston called timeout, the Cougars went on a 21-11 run to open up a 70-53 lead with 8:28 left to play. Smith began the rally when he penetrated Charleston half-court press and hit Tafari Toney for a slam-dunk. Then, McKiver passed to Dowell for another three-point shot. Brockeith Pane also added four jump shots in the paint and McKiver closed out the run with an alley-oop pass of his own to Toney for another slam-dunk.
"We got some timely contributions from Brockeith Pane and Dion Dowell," Penders said. "Tafari Toney played his best all-round game and Marcus Cousin did a good job when he was in there. He just didn't get many minutes because Tafari was playing so well. Tafari and Marcus showed well in this tournament."
Dowell finished the game with 16 points and Pane added 10 for Houston, while Smith handed out eight assists.
Toney finished the game with nine points and eight rebounds and held Charleston's Jermaine Johnson to six points after Johnson had scored 13 points against Temple.
Charleston made one last run, but couldn't get any closer than nine points the rest of the way. After Tony White made a three-point basket to make the score 78-69, Smith made two free throws and hit Dowell for a dunk. Then McKiver closed out the game with two free throws to give Houston the 84-69 victory. The win improves Houston's record to 3-1.
"This team is very close with all five of our seniors intermingling with our freshmen and our other new players and bringing them along," Penders added.
The Cougars return home to begin a seven-game homestand against Texas Southern on Wednesday, Nov. 21, at 7:00 p.m.