TAIHU, China – University of Houston forward Bertrand Nkali posted a team-high 11 points, but it would not be enough as the Chinese Basketball Association’s Qingdao Doublestars took a 77-66 win over the Cougars inside Taihu County Sports Center on Saturday night.
Nkali, who sat out as a redshirt in 2014-15 after surgery for a sports hernia, drained four field goals in the win, including some thunderous dunks, and hit 3-of-4 free throws.
The game was ended with 1:25 remaining in the fourth quarter after a series of small skirmishes between players from both teams. In the interest of both team and fan safety, administrators chose to stop the game with 85 seconds left on the clock.
The two teams entered the fourth quarter tied at 54-54, but the Doublestars used a 21-4 run to start the final period to take the lead for good.
The Doublestars took advantage of 31 fouls called against the Cougars to hit 33-of-47 free throws. All nine Cougars who competed for at least five minutes in the game recorded at least three fouls. Meanwhile, Qingdao was whistled for only 12 fouls in the game, leading to 7-of-12 free throws for the Cougars.
After scoring 21 points on Friday against the Chinese Junior National Team in Hefei, junior guard Damyean Dotson added nine points with a 3-pointer, while senior forward and three-year letterman LeRon Barnes added nine points with a trey of his own. Senior forward Devonta Pollard finished with eight points in the loss.
The ending for Saturday’s game capped a crazy day for the Cougars on their fifth day in China. The team was originally scheduled to leave their hotel in Hefei at 9 a.m. (China ST) but was forced to wait about 90 minutes as travel logistics were ironed out.
Arriving at Wan Fu International Hotel in Taihu, student-athletes, coaches and support staff members enjoyed lunch in the early afternoon and began preparations for Saturday’s game.
With the team ready and waiting to leave for the arena, local administrators informed Head Coach Kelvin Sampson and his team that loose electrical wires in the arena were a concern, forcing a two-hour delay for the game to start.
After arriving in the game, the Cougars quickly dressed and prepared before the game started around 9:30 p.m. (China ST).
The Cougars are scheduled to continue road trip when they compete against an unnamed opponent as of press time at 7:30 p.m. (China ST), Sunday, in Taihu and in Tongling on Monday.
In addition to the competition, the Cougars will enjoy several cultural sites on their trip. Following the competition schedule on Aug. 18, the team will visit Yellow Mountain, an area renamed after the Yellow Emperor (Huang Di) in 747 AD. Several Buddhist temples have been built there, and it has become a tourist attraction with its beautiful scenery.
The team also will visit Xi Di Hong, a village built during the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). Built in the shape of an ox, the village enjoys more than 900 years of history.
Both Yellow Mountain and Xi Di Hong have been registered as World Heritage Sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
The Cougars return to Houston on the evening of Aug. 20 with the first day of classes set for Aug. 24.
|Friday, Aug. 14||Houston 93, Chinese Junior National Team 83 (Hefei)|
|Saturday, Aug. 15||Qingdao Doublestars 77, Houston 66 (in Taihu)|
|Sunday, Aug. 16||Game 3 vs. Opponent TBA in Taihu
7:30 p.m. (China Standard Time)
|Monday, Aug. 17||Game 4 vs. Opponent TBA in Tongling
7:30 p.m. (China Standard Time)
|Tuesday, Aug. 18||Tour of Yellow Mountain & team activities|
|Wednesday, Aug. 19||Tour of Xi Di Hong Village & team activities|
|Thursday, Aug. 20||Return to Houston|
Please note that China Standard Time is 13 hours ahead of Central Daylight Time. When it is noon, Thursday, in Houston, it is 1 a.m., Friday in Anhui Province, China.
Reserved 1 season tickets will soon be available for $250 per seat for all 18 regular-season home games, while Reserved 2 season tickets will sell for $150 per seat. As an added benefit this season, fans who purchase Reserved 1 Men's Basketball season tickets will receive the same number of Houston Women's Basketball season tickets FREE.
For the first time in 2015-16, fans also can purchase $99 Anytime season tickets. With Anytime season tickets, With Anytime season tickets, fans will receive one ticket for each of the 18 regular-season home games.
From there, fans can use their Anytime season tickets any way they like. They can use one ticket for each home game or take 17 friends to one home game or any combination in between.
As always, current University of Houston students are admitted free with valid IDs to Houston Men's Basketball games inside Hofheinz Pavilion. Fans can view a Hofheinz Pavilion map with season-ticket pricing by clicking here.
Houston fans can connect with Fan Experience Headquarters by phone or text, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., at 713-462-6647 and can purchase tickets online 24/7 at UHCougars.com/tickets.
Any deposit amount paid will be credited toward season-ticket costs once they go on sale. New season-ticket members who make a deposit will be contacted by a Houston Athletics Ticket Sales staff member to choose their seats.
Fans should also stay tuned to UHCougars.com and Houston Men's Basketball social media sites for the latest information about ticket sales.
ABOUT THE COUGARS
The Cougars return six lettermen and four starters from last year’s team, which recorded 13 wins and knocked off defending national champion UConn inside Hofheinz Pavilion for the second consecutive year.
Battling injuries throughout the season, the Cougars enjoyed a late-season surge, winning four of their final five games, including the lone upset in the American Athletic Conference Championship First Round in Hartford, Conn.
Senior guard LeRon Barnes, the Cougars’ lone 3-year letterwinners, returns after ranking among The American’s top-10 leaders in both offensive and defensive rebounding, while senior forward Devonta Pollard enters the 2015-16 campaign as the Cougars’ top returning scorer with 11.4 points per game.
Junior forward Danrad Knowles ranked third on the team in both scoring and rebounding, and senior guard L.J Rose looks for his third 100+ assist season while wearing the Scarlet and White.
Houston also welcomes the return of junior guard Ronnie Johnson and junior forward Bertrand Nkali to competition. Both players practiced with the Cougars but sat out the 2014-15 season after Johnson transferred from Purdue and Nkali missed the year with an injury.
The Cougars will be boosted by the addition of five newcomers to the team, including freshman guard Galen Robinson (Westbury Christian/Houston); sophomore guard Rob Gray, Jr. (Howard JC/Forest City, N.C.); junior guard Damyean Dotson (Oregon/Houston); junior forward Xavier Dupree (Paris JC/Houston) and junior center Kyle Meyer (Eastern Florida State College/Atlanta).
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.