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Friday, September 29, 2023

Men's Basketball

Cougars fall short in Paradise Jam


Junior guard Corey Davis Jr shoots a free-throw at H&PE Arena. Davis has carved out a role for himself so far in the young season and came away with the game winning layup with 0.3 seconds left against Liberty during the Paradise Jam Tournament last weekend. | Marissa Reily/The Cougar

The Cougars are now 3-1 on the season after knocking off Wake Forest and bringing home the consolation title at the Paradise Jam in Lynchburg, Virginia this weekend.

Senior guard Rob Gray made all the difference and led the team to two wins in the tournament over Liberty and Wake Forest. Despite scoring a career-high in points against Drexler, Gray and the Cougars could not defeat the Dragons in the first round.  Colorado won the tournament over Mercer on the back of senior guard George King, who scored 25 points in the 79-70 victory.

The Cougars faced Drexler first and lost after a late rally. The team was led by Gray, who was 13-21 shooting including 5-8 from beyond the arc. He was followed by senior forward Devin Davis, who went 5-9 and had 10 points against the Dragons. Offensive inefficiency from everyone except Gray caused the team to lose a close one and made them settle for the consolation bracket for the rest of the tournament.

After losing to Mercer in the first round, Liberty played the Cougars in the second round and lost again. The Flames had five players score double digits, but the Cougars could not be overcome. With last second heroics, junior guard Corey Davis Jr. scored the game winning layup in the 68-66 victory.

This time Gray got help from his teammates on offense. Both senior guard Wes VanBeck and Davis scored double digit points in the game. VanBeck came away with 18 points, six rebounds and two assists, and Davis added twelve points to help the Cougars recover after a first round loss.

The two teams went back and forth all game to take it down to the wire after 12 lead changes. Liberty started strong but eventually flamed out in a second half that included an 11 point run by the Cougars.

Houston finally faced Wake Forest in the last round of the consolation bracket after the Demons lost in the second round against Drake and then beat Quinnipiac.

The trio of VanBeck, Davis and Gray is something that might be seen working well together often this season. All three players again scored double digits in the final game of the tournament. They were led by Gray with 23 and followed by VanBeck with 19 of his own and Davis with 17 points. Gray finished the game with over 20 points. This is the 27th time he has done that in his career.

Wake Forest came within three with 1:15 left in the game but couldn’t catch up to the Cougars in the 78-73 loss to end the tournament for both teams.

The Cougars head home with a 3-1 record to face UIW on Saturday, Nov. 25 at H&PE Arena. Start time for the game is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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