Golden Eagles Break Houston's Hearts
Houston- After battling back from a 13-point deficit with 8:57 left to play, the University of Houston could only sit and watch Southern Mississippi's David Wall hit a three-point shot with 12 seconds left to give the Golden Eagles a 62-58 victory over Houston at Hofheinz Pavilion.
Just as they had in their last home game against Charlotte, the Cougars refused to give up and fought back with a heroic rally down the stretch.
"We just kept battling," Houston head coach Ray McCallum said. "We would get down and battled back just like we did against Charlotte."
This time, George Williams and Dominic Smith lead the charge as Williams scored eight points and Smith added seven.
After Smith hit two free throws to give the Cougars a 58-57 lead with 34 seconds left to play, Houston fell back into a half-court man-to-man press on defense looking to make their biggest stop of the night.
"If we make a stop there and get fouled, we go to the free throw line and it's a good night for the Cougars," McCallum said.
Southern Miss worked the ball inside to senior center Vandarel Jones, who led the Golden Eagles with a game-high 16 points and seven rebounds.
Jones turned toward the basket, but when Houston's defense collapsed on him, he looked out on the perimeter and found Wall wide open in the left-hand corner.
"I was didn't know he was going to pass it," Wall said. "He was up over the rim, and I was expecting him to shoot, but instead he flipped out it to me.
"I just shot the ball. I didn't think about it, If I had thought about it, I probably would have missed the shot."
Instead, Wall nailed the trey to give the Golden Eagles a 60-58 lead with 12 seconds left in the game.
Houston didn't have any time outs remaining, so Smith worked the ball up the court quickly and shot a one-handed runner in the middle of the lane.
"I thought that it was an all-right shot," Smith said. "Those usually fall for me."
This time, however, his shot hit the front of the rim and the rebound bounced out to Wall near half-court and he was able to drive the rest of the way for an uncontested lay-up.
"This was a difficult loss for us," McCallum said. "We battled back and battled back all night, but when we need to make a stop, we lose their best shooter and he makes a big shot."
The loss drops Houston's record to 5-17 overall this season, and the Cougars are 2-8 in Conference USA play.
"You have to give Ray and his kids a lot of credit," Southern Miss head coach James Green said. "To have the kind of won-loss record they have and to hang around and be in position to win the game is a very good thing on their part."
Houston will try to rebound on Saturday, February 17, when the Cougars travel to Tampa, Fla., for a game against South Florida.