Houston guard Kelvin Lewis, left, attempts to get around Southern Mississippi guard Craig Craft, left in the first half. (AP Photo/Steve Coleman).
Jan. 17, 2009
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Southern Miss connected on 20 free throws in the last five minutes, holding off a furious comeback attempt from Houston upend the Cougars, 83-76, Saturday afternoon at Reed Green Coliseum.
Craig Craft scored a season-high 21 points. Courtney Beasley recorded his third double-double of the year, scoring 20 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. Jeremy Wise and R.L. Horton each scored 11 points, and Gustavo Lino added 11 rebounds.
"This was a good game," said head coach Larry Eustachy. "We had them right where we wanted them. We were controlling the tempo of the game. But they are a good team. I thought we persevered. Craig Craft had a monster game. Gustavo Lino had a great game. These guys are really growing up, and it's starting to show on the court."
The Golden Eagles (11-5, 2-1 C-USA) held a 63-46 lead with 5:20 to play, holding Houston to just 16 points in the second half up to that point. But that's when UH got hot. After a lay-up by Aubrey Coleman and a Kelvin Lewis three-pointer, Houston cut the deficit to 63-51 with 4:34 to play. The teams traded free throws before Southern Miss twice went up by 14 points.
However, the Cougars (11-4, 2-1 C-USA) went on a 7-1 run behind to Lewis three's to pull within 71-64 with 1:18 to play. It was the first time Houston was down by single-digits since trailing 49-40 at the 12:49 mark of the second half.
Two free throws by Rodney McCauley pushed the lead back to nine, but Lewis connected on another three-pointer and the ensuing free throw after getting fouled to pull Houston within 73-68 with 1:01 to play.
The teams again traded a pair of free throws. After Courtney Beasley connected on two, Lewis hit another three to again cut the deficit to five points (78-73) with 29 seconds remaining. But UH would get no closer, as the rally fell short.
Southern Miss scored the first six points of the game. After Houston pulled within, the Golden Eagles went on a 9-2 run to take their biggest lead of the half, 15-7, nine minutes into the game.
But, the Cougars responded, scoring the next seven points to again pull within one point. After a jumper by Andre Stephens, Lewis hit a three-pointer to pull UH even at 17 with 7:06 to play in the half.
The teams traded free throws before Craig Craft connected on a three-pointer. However, after a foul by Stephens, Williams hit both free throws, followed by a Marcus Cousin jumper gave Houston its first lead of the game, 22-21 with 3:41 left.
The teams traded leads four times before two free throws by Courtney Beasley and a Craft jumper gave the Eagles a four-point lead. But Williams hit his second three-pointer of the half with four seconds remaining, as Southern Miss went into the break ahead 31-30.
Lewis led all scorers with 30 points, connecting on seven three-pointers. Williams scored 16 points, and Aubrey Coleman recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
The Golden Eagles return to action this Wednesday, Jan. 21, when they to Orlando, Fla. to face UCF. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. CT.
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