Simmons’ big night powers Cougars to 87-66 win
“We came out for the next two days of practice and said we were going to come out for this game, we’re not losing at home,” freshman forward TaShawn Thomas said.
The Cougars turned it around with an 87-66 win over Texas A&M Corpus Christi on Saturday at Hofheinz Pavilion.
“I’m obviously happy with the win, the way the guys bounced back and responded,” head coach James Dickey said.
“I thought we had a better flow offensively. I thought we played with a lot more confidence offensively tonight.”
The Cougars took the lead early and improved in areas that had been troublesome in recent games — rebounding and shooting from the free-throw line and outside.
“That’s all coach has been stressing is rebounding,” junior guard Jonathan Simmons said. “So we tried to prove a point today that they’re not going to beat us on the boards today.”
The Cougars held the edge on the glass 43-28, with Thomas and sophomore forward Alandise Harris leading the way with 12 and 11 rebounds, respectively.
“Me and Alandise kept telling each other that we had to get into each other’s heads in practice, go and make it a competition and see who was going to get the most rebounds,” Thomas said.
Thomas earned the Cougars first double-double of the season, and the first of his career with 12 boards, 12 points and four blocks.
Simmons was the leading scorer for the Cougars with 22 points on 5-7 shooting, 4-5 from three-point range, and 8-10 from the line.
“I thought he really played within himself and still had a terrific game,” Dickey said.
At one point, Simmons single-handedly led an 11-3 UH run in the first half, knocking down three 3-pointers and a layup.
“He got to the free-throw line. He drove, took some really good threes, the guys recognized he had the hot hand and gave it to him,” Dickey said. “I thought his shot selection was very good.”
Simmons also added six rebounds and three steals, but turned the ball over six times as well, including three in the game’s first five minutes.
With junior forward Kirk Van Slyke missing the game due to the flu, junior forward Leon Gibson stepped in as the first big man off of the bench and scored 16 points on 6-8 shooting.
“Leon came in big,” Simmons said.
The Cougars shot 8-13 from beyond the arc and 23-28 from the free-throw line.
Freshman guard Joseph Young was a perfect 2-2 from both distances and finished with 12 points.
UH was strong defensively as well, holding the Islanders to 39-percent shooting.