Minutemen Come Back To Knock Off Houston, 95-89
Jan. 2, 2008
AMHERST, Mass. - After scoring just one point in the first half, Etienne Brower scored 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the second half to lead UMass (11-2) to a 95-89 victory over Houston (11-1) in Wednesday night's matchup of up-tempo teams at the Mullins Center. Gary Forbes led all scorers with 19 points. Chris Lowe tallied 18 points on 7-for-11 shooting and Ricky Harris rounded out the four Minutemen in double-figures with 16 points and five assists. UMass trailed by as many as 13 late in the first half, but used an early second half run fueled by the energized home crowd to make the comeback.
The Minutemen struggled to find their shooting touch early, connecting on five of their first 17 shots, including 2-for-11 from 3-point range, while falling behind, 18-14, 8:42 into the game. A Luke Bonner 3-point play pulled UMass to within one, 23-22, with 9:15 left, but the Cougars then went on a 8-1 run over a 41 second span to take a 31-23 lead. Two straight Forbes layups and a Papa Lo block ended the run, but Houston would outscore UMass, 17-10, over the final 6:35 of the half to send the Minutemen to the locker room down, 48-37.
UMass was 14-for-35 (40.0%) from the floor in the first half, including 3-for-15 from 3-point range. Houston shot 18-for-34 (52.9%) and was 2-for-7 from behind the arc. The Cougars held a 22-19 advantage on the glass in the opening 20 minutes. Lowe led the Minutemen with 10 points on 5-for-6 shooting and Forbes added seven first half points. Houston was paced by Tafari Toney and Robert McKiver with 10 points each.
The Minutemen came out attacking to start the second half, outscoring the Cougars, 21-11 over the first 7:11 to pull within three, 59-56. Brower led the charge with 10 points in that span and capped off the run with a 3-point play in the lane. UMass took the lead for the first time since 1-0 when Lowe converted two straight layups with the help of a Ricky Harris steal to make it 73-70 with 8:19 to go. Houston took the lead back two more times before another 3-point play from Brower gave UMass the lead again, 80-79, with 5:26 remaining. A Harris layup with 2:17 left extended UMass' lead to five, 88-83, but Houston outscored UMass, 6-1, over the next 1:07 to tie the game, 89-89, with 1:10 left. Forbes hit two free throws with 54.9 seconds to give the Minutemen the lead back for good, 91-89. UMass would go on to combine tough play at the defensive end with four more made free throws down the stretch to pull off the 95-89 victory.
For the game, UMass shot 46.3% (31-67), while Houston shot 45.1% (32-71). The Minutemen held the edge on the glass, hauling in 43 rebounds to the Cougars' 39. UMass outscored Houston, 58-41 in the second half.
UMass returns to action on Saturday when they travel to Vanderbilt to take on the undefeated Commodores (13-0) in a battle of high-scoring offenses.
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