Late Rally Propels Men's Basketball past Louisiana-Lafayette
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The Cajuns held a 65-62 lead when Josh Brown converted a layup with 4:10 remaining, but those would be the final points Louisiana-Lafayette would score the rest of the night.
Sophomore forward Kirk Van Slyke started the rally with a jumper to lead four different Cougars who scored during the game-ending rally. Senior guard Adam Brown hit a pair of 3-pointers and both free throw attempts to lead the team with eight points during the run.
Sophomore forward Kendrick Washington hit his four free throw attempts, and senior guard Zamal Nixon nailed both of his tries from the charity stripe. Houston converted eight consecutive free throw attempts during the final 2:19 to seal the win.
Converting only six field goals in the first half, the Cougars roared out of the locker room to hit 16-of-27 attempts from the field in the final 20 minutes. Houston finished the night hitting 22-of-45 (48.9 percent) from the field while holding the Cajuns to 36.4 percent in the game.
"We competed in the second half. We hit threes, worked the ball inside-outside, and we had people come off the bench and play well. We also hit a high percentage of free throws," head coach James Dickey said. "I'm very pleased we won and how we competed, but we have to be a team that competes for 40 minutes, and we have to have balance."
With the win, the Cougars won their seventh straight home game and improved to 4-1 overall. The Cougars also enjoyed their first win against the Cajuns since Feb. 3, 1987. Louisiana-Lafayette fell to 1-4.
Early in the second half, the Cajuns seized a 46-36 lead when La'Ryan Gary answered a Brown 3-pointer with a trey of his own. From there, the Cougars used a 12-2 run during a 5-minute stretch to take a 51-48 lead with 11:13 remaining, their first lead since 4-2.
Washington highlighted that Cougar run, scoring eight consecutive points on the inside.
The two teams went back and forth from there. Louisiana-Lafayette eventually regained the lead at 61-56 on Gary's layup with 6:14 to go, but the Cougars pulled to within 61-60 on free throws from Van Slyke and a Darrian Thibodeaux jumper. The two teams traded the next four baskets before the Cougars erupted on their game-winning rally.
Brown led all players with 23 points on 7-of-15 shooting, including 5-of-8 from behind the arc. It was the San Antonio, Texas, native's third 20-point game this season through five contests.
Van Slyke added a career-high 17 points on 5-of-9 shooting with eight rebounds, while Washington came off the bench to pour in a career-best 17 points of his own with nine rebounds.
Brown led the Cajuns with 16 points and nine rebounds, while Gary finished with 13 points as a reserve. Travis Bureau also added 10 points in the losing effort.
Louisiana-Lafayette took advantage of cold shooting by the Cougars in the first half to take a 38-26 lead at halftime. Houston hit only 6-of-18 attempts from the field with 11 turnovers in the first 20 minutes.
"That was about as inefficient a half as you could have had," Dickey said. "It was a combination of things. We didn't play against Louisiana's defense very well, and they took us out of our comfort zone."
Fans can hear all Cougar men's basketball games live on SportsTalk 790 AM KBME. Cougar legend Elvin Hayes will make his debut as an analyst on the Houston radio crew for the TCU game this weekend, joining play-by-play announcer Brett Dolan on the call.
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