LYNCHBURG, Va. - University of Houston senior guard Rob Gray scored 11 of the team’s final 13 points in the final five minutes to lead the Cougars to a 78-73 win over Wake Forest in the consolation title game of the Paradise Jam inside Vines Center on Sunday afternoon.
In a game that went back and forth with eight ties and 14 lead changes, Gray was the difference-maker as the Cougars moved to 3-1 this season.
Houston built a 68-64 lead with when Gray drained a 3-pointer with 4:35 left, but the Demon Deacons scored four straight points and knotted the game at 68-68 after a pair of free throws from guard Brandon Childress with 3:35 remaining.
Gray gave the Cougars the lead for good on a jumper on the ensuing possession, and senior forward Devin Davis sank a pair of free throws after being fouled grabbing a defensive rebound following a Wake Forest missed shot.
After senior guard Wes VanBeck drew a charge, Gray buried another 3-pointer for a 75-68 Houston lead with 2:44 remaining.
Wake Forest trimmed the deficit to 76-73 after Mitchell Wilbekin sank a 3-pointer and a dunk from Doral Moore with 1:15 left in the game. Gray missed a 3-point attempt, but senior forward Nura Zanna snared the offensive rebound with 46 seconds left, and the Cougars reset the offense with a fresh shot clock.
With the game clock and the shot clock ticking down, Gray launched a long jumper just shy of the top of key and buried it for the final margin of victory.
With his total, Gray enjoyed his second 20-point effort of the season and the 27th of his outstanding career.
The Cougars connected on nearly 47 percent from the field in the game while limiting Wake Forest to 38 percent, including 29.6 percent (8-of-27) in the second half. Houston also outrebounded the Demon Deacons, 38-34, and forced 15 Wake Forest turnovers.
For the second straight day, VanBeck posted a career high in points. A day after finishing with 18 points in a win against Liberty, the Houston native finished with 19 points, thanks to five 3-pointers.
Devin Davis scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the season, while Zanna led all players with 11 rebounds.
Wake Forest guard Bryant Crawford led four Demon Deacons in double digits with 17 point and added three 3-pointers. Wilbekin and Keyshawn Woods totaled 15 points apiece, while Childress added 14 points.
The Cougars return to Houston to begin a season-long, four-game homestand. That stand begins at 7 p.m., Saturday, against UIW inside H&PE Arena on the Texas Southern campus.
Fans who show their tickets stubs from Friday’s Houston Football game vs. Navy at the door will be admitted FREE to Saturday’s Basketball game against UIW. Houston Football kicks off vs. Navy at 11 a.m., Friday.
From there, the Cougars continue their stand when they play host to New Orleans (7 p.m., Nov. 29), Arkansas (6:30 p.m., Dec. 2) and Fairfield (11 a.m., Dec. 6).
Season for 15 regular-season games inside H&PE Arena on the campus of Texas Southern begin as low as $100 with single-game tickets starting at only $8. Fans can purchase tickets online at UHCougars.com/tickets or by calling the Athletics Ticket Office at 713-GO-COOGS (462-6647).
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