Cougars survive Bulls’ late game surge to reach 10-win mark in conference play
The Cougars earned a hard-fought 62-58 road win over South Florida to remain atop The American standings on Wednesday night.
Sophomore Quentin Grimes had a great game against the Bulls, and he had it going early in the first half as he either scored or assisted on 10 of Houston’s first 12 points.
Junior forward Justin Gorham provided a nice boost off the bench hitting a pair of 3-pointers to help the Cougars build up an early 10-point, but South Florida came storming back from the deficit by going on a 9-0 run, which was highlighted by senior guard Laquincy Rideau, who scored five points and assisted on a basket during the comeback.
The Cougars responded to the Bulls run with a 7-3 run of their own to close out the half to take a 31-26 lead into the locker room.
South Florida came out in the second half and cut Houston’s lead down to three, but once again Grimes took control of the Cougars offense as he scored seven-straight points to build Houston’s lead back up to eight.
Sophomore guard Nate Hinton followed up Grimes’ scoring surge by knocking down a 3-pointer and extending the Cougars lead to 43-32.
The Bulls chipped away at the Cougars lead towards the latter end of the second half and got it all the way down to three points on multiple occasions.
South Florida got the lead down to two in the final stretch of the game, but Grimes provided an answer for the Cougars again by hitting a wide-open 3-pointer from the wing to push Houston’s lead back to five points.
South Florida got Houston’s lead back down to three points with two minutes remaining in the game and had opportunity after opportunity to tie the game but failed to convert.
Junior guard Dejon Jarreau made a floater with 16 seconds remaining in the game to give the Cougars a five-point lead, but Rideau buried a 3-pointer to cut USF’s deficit to two, which forced Houston to play the free-throw game.
Grimes, who came up big for the Cougars all night, knocked down four free-throws, which were sandwiched in between two missed free-throws from USF junior guard David Collins, down the stretch to ice the game.
The Cougars held on over the remaining seconds to win 62-58.
Grimes led the Cougars with 22 points, six rebounds, and five assists. Junior forward Fabian White Jr. followed with 10 points.
With this victory, Houston improves to 20-5 on the season and 10-2 in conference play. The Cougars now have a 1.5 game lead over second-place Cincinnati.