Gallery: Three-point barrage helps UH defeat USF for four-game winning streak
The Cougars extended their winning streak to four games as they defeated South Florida 78-69 on Tuesday in their final home game of the regular season, but this game meant even more than conference seeding to the four seniors who were playing for the last time in Hofheinz Pavilion.
UH is making it a point to finish off this season on a good note — going into the American Athletic Conference tournament. The win assured the Cougars the sixth seed and a first-round bye in the AAC tournament.
Seniors J.J. Richardson, Brandon Morris, Tione Womack and Lawrence Paye were all honored prior to the game.
“I know they wanted to win this game bad for their teammates and the seniors and for building the conference record,” head coach James Dickey said.
The Cougars sent an early message, making seven 3-pointers in the first half. Sophomore guard Jherrod Stiggers capped off the half by banking in a near mid-court shot, giving Houston a 32-30 halftime lead. Stiggers contributed 15 points and three 3s.
UH’s 3-point brigade didn’t let up in the second half, as sophomore guard L.J. Rose hit a 3-pointer right out of the halftime gate. The Cougars went on a 19-6 run to start the half, but USF answered with a 12-0 run of its own to cut the Cougars’ lead to three with 10:38 to go.
“When you get someone down, you just have to continue to do what you’ve been doing,” Dickey said. “Be efficient offensively, take care of the ball and get multiple stops. We didn’t do that.”
Tied at 59 with 5:26 left in the game, UH immediately responded with a 15-3 run, ignited by a Rose jumper.
Rose, who leads the AAC in assists per game with 5.4, had 16 points on four 3-pointers and five assists.
The Cougars knew how important it was to not take a game off in order to gain momentum going forward into the tournament, Rose said.
“We felt like this game was the only thing that could stop us from reaching our goal. Now we just have to get ready for Central Florida and gain some momentum going into the tournament,” Rose said.
Bulls senior forward Victor Rudd played his part and proved why he is such a presence, leading all scorers with 25 points. Senior guard Martino Brock also contributed 19 points for USF, but they have now lost seven games straight.
The Cougars’ bench productivity still contributed with 23 points but lacked because sophomore guard Danuel House was inserted back into the starting lineup. House scored 17 points, dished five assists and led all rebounders with nine. He said he was looking to do the dirty work.
“Well, I just knew that my team needed rebounds to finalize the defensive stops, so the coaches told us to go get the rebounds. My job was to do that and then to outlet it to L.J. (Rose),” House said.
Houston’s record now stands at 16-14 and 8-9 in conference play.