Houston comeback falls short on road
Not even a career outing from junior guard Kelvin Lewis could keep the UH men’s basketball team’s win streak alive against Southern Miss.
Lewis scored 21 of his career-high 30 points in the second half, but the Cougars’ rally fell short in an 83-76 loss before a crowd of 4,195 on Saturday at Reed Green Coliseum in Hattiesburg, Miss.
The Cougars trailed 31-30 at halftime, but struggled at the start of the second half. The Golden Eagles opened the half with a 22-10 run, taking a 53-40 lead with 10:40 left in the game.
Eagles senior guards Craig Craft and Courtney Beasley came up big during that run, combining to score 14 of the 22 points.
The deficit quickly became worse for the Cougars.
Southern Miss continued to hit shots, extending its lead to 63-46 with 5:20 remaining in the game. The outcome seemed to be in little doubt at that point, but the Cougars did not give up.
Junior guard Aubrey Coleman dropped in a layup, and Lewis connected on a three-pointer to reduce the Golden Eagles’ lead to 63-51 with 4:34 left. Lewis later hit another 3-pointer to pull the Cougars within 71-64 with 1:18 remaining and connected on two free throws to cut the deficit to 76-70 with 36 seconds remaining, but that was as close as UH would come to completing a comeback. Beasley made seven of eight free throws in the closing seconds to seal the win.
The loss snapped the Cougars’ three-game win streak as they fell to 11-4 on the season and 2-1 in Conference USA. Southern Miss, which got a season-high 21 points from Craft, improved to 11-5 and 2-1 in C-USA. UH fell into a four-way tie for second place in the conference with Southern Miss, Tulsa and Texas-El Paso.
One game after shooting 48.3 percent from the field in a 94-86 win over UTEP, the Cougars hit rock bottom, shooting only 37.1 percent against Southern Miss.
Lewis gave the Cougars a jolt by hitting seven 3-pointers, six in the second half, and senior guard DaShaun Williams dropped in 16 points off the bench. Coleman added 14 points and 10 rebounds, but hit only five of 18 shots.
Southern Miss had four players score in double figures, led by Craft and Beasley (20 points, 13 rebounds). Junior guard Jeremy Wise and freshman guard R.L. Horton each scored 11 points. Sophomore center Gustavo Lino added 11 rebounds off the bench.
The Cougars will try to rebound when they host East Carolina (9-7, 1-2 C-USA) at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Hofheinz Pavilion.