A Tough Way to Go Out

The University of Houston Cougars played the Akron Zips in the National Invitational Tournament (NIT), this past Wednesday, March 15th at Texas Southern University’s H&PE Arena. The Cougars were the number two ranked team coming into the game, while the Zips were ranked number seven.

The Cougars took a 35-34 lead at the end of the first half. The second half wasn’t as favored for the Cougars. They were not able to close the game and ended up losing 78-75 to the Zips. The Cougars put the Zips on the free throw far too many times in the second half, which eventually led to their demise. The Zips shot 12 more shots from the charity stripe than the Cougars.

“It was a nip and tuck game,” said U of H coach Kelvin Sampson.

Coach Sampson also believed the Cougars were lacking just one more guy with some length.

“We probably needed another body, another length guy,” said Coach Sampson.

The Cougars, nor the Zips, held a rebounding advantage, but having more length would have helped the Cougars defensively. The Zips were led by Isaiah Johnson who had 21 points and five rebounds. The Cougars were led by their guards, Rob Gray and Damyean Dotson. Dotson is a Jack Yates High School alumnus, which is located directly across the street from U of H and next to Texas Southern. Gray was the regular season leading scorer in the American Athletic Conference, averaging 20.3 points per game. Gray ended the game with 24 points. Dotson finished with 19 points and a chance to force overtime on the final shot at the buzzer. Dotson also extended his streak of 32 games with at least one three-point shot from downtown.

The Cougars did not want to end their season on a sour note, but all good things do come to an end.

“It was tough,” said Coach Sampson after the last game of the season. “There were a lot of tears back there for different reasons.”

The Cougars have a bright future next season with five seniors and Gray, their leading scorer, returning next season.