Friday, November 12, 2010

Late McNeil Bucket Lifts UH Men's Basketball to Season-Opening Win

HOUSTON, TEXAS (November 12, 2010) Senior forward Maurice McNeil's scoop shot off the glass with three seconds remaining in overtime lifted the University of Houston men's basketball team to a 63-62 against Nicholls State inside Hofheinz Pavilion on Friday evening.

With the Cougars leading 61-59 following McNeil's free throw with 1:26 remaining in the extra period, Nicholls State forward Anatoly Bose was fouled while attempting a 3-pointer with just 26 seconds left. The Sydney, Australia, native hit all three attempts to give the Colonels a 62-61 advantage.

On the ensuing possession, Houston junior guard Darian Thibodeaux's baseline 3-pointer was off the mark, but Nicholls State's Bryan Hammond's was whistled for traveling after falling to the floor on the rebound.

Following a Cougar timeout, McNeil stepped out to take the inbounds pass and worked his way into the paint before banking a short shot off the glass.

"When we had a timeout at the end of the game, I told our guys we were going to score," said head coach James Dickey, who made his Cougar debut. "It's not the way we drew the play up, but that's what you expect from your seniors, to make the tough, smart plays down the stretch."

The Colonels had one last chance, but Bose's 3-pointer at the buzzer was off the mark.

In regulation, sophomore forward Kirk Van Slyke gave the Cougars a 51-50 lead with 1:25 to go on a 3-pointer from the top of the key. With 46 seconds left in the second half, NSU forward Fred Hunter converted an old-fashioned 3-point play to give the Colonels a 53-51 lead.

Houston junior guard Adam Brown was fouled with 25 seconds left, and the San Antonio, Texas, native calmly drilled both attempts to knot the game at 53-53. Working the clock down, Bose missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer with four seconds left to send the contest into overtime.

Friday's season opener was a game full of runs by both teams. After the Colonels scored the first five points to open the second half and build a 34-24 lead, Brown single-handedly pulled the Cougars back into the game with 11 straight points.

McNeil added a pair of free throws, and Brown capped the 15-0 run with two more free throws for a 39-34 Houston lead with 11:42 remaining in regulation.

When the Colonels responded with a 9-0 run of their own to take a 43-39 lead, the Cougars answered with a 5-0 run to reclaim a 44-43 lead. Nicholls State responded with a 7-0 rally to build a 50-44 lead, but the Cougars scored seven straight points and grabbed a 51-50 lead on Van Slyke's trey.

After being held scoreless through the first 20 minutes, Brown posted 20 second-half points to lead the Cougars. It was the fourth 20-point game of his career.

McNeil posted 12 points and a game-high 13 rebounds for the seventh double-double of his career, while Van Slyke recorded 12 points and 10 rebounds for the first double-double of his career.

Hunter led all players with 28 points on 12-of-21 shooting and added eight rebounds. Bose posted 22 points but was limited to 1-of-9 shooting from the arc. No other Nicholls State player scored more than four points in the loss.

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