Houston Gets Revenge Against Cross-Town Rival With 74-71 Victory Over Rice
March 1, 2006
Houston - Oliver Lafayette scored 22 points and Lanny Smith added 17 points to lead the University of Houston to a 74-71 victory over Rice in a Conference USA showdown before 7,105 raucous fans in Hofheinz Pavilion.
"The turnout from the students was huge emotionally for us," Houston head coach Tom Penders said. "The atmosphere they gave tonight showed that college basketball is alive in this city."
The Cougars entered the game have lost five straight games against the Owls dating back to 2002-03 and including a 71-62 loss at Autry Court in January after shooting just 29 percent from the field.
Houston began Wednesday night's game hitting just one of its first six shots from the field before Lanny Smith hit a jump shot in the paint and made a three-pointer to pull Houston to within 12-10 with 13:29 left in the opening period.
That is when Lafayette took over. After not scoring a field goal in Houston's first game at Rice earlier this year, Lafayette made two straight lay-ups to give the Cougars their first lead of the night.
"Tonight, I was taking my time and not rushing things like I did in the first half," Lafayette said.
After Lafayette hit his second trey of the game, Smith hit another three-point basket to extend Houston's lead to 20-14 with 11:24 left in the first half.
The Owls came right back to take a two-point lead when J.R. Harrison, who led Rice with 22 points, hit a three-point field goal from the left wing to give Rice a 24-22 lead.
After Smith picked up his third foul in the half, Chris Lawson came off the bench to nail a three-point shot from the left wing as well and tied the score at 26 all with seven minutes left in the period.
The two teams fought back and fourth the rest of the way before Lafayette hit Thorpe for a dunk with 42 seconds left to give the Cougars a 44-40 lead.
Rice's Lorenzo Williams drove for a lay-up with three seconds left to make the half-time score 44-42.
In the second half, Rice seemed to take control of the game with 11:42 left when J.R. Harrison made a dunk shot and a free throw to give the Owls a 59-51 lead.
But, Houston came roaring back as Smith hit Anderson for a lay-up to give the Cougars a 70-68 lead. The Owls took a 71-70 lead with 1:53 left to play when Patrick Britton made two free throws.
Lafayette tied the score with 1:14 left when he made the first of two free throws. Smith put the Cougars ahead for good with 48 seconds left when he drove for a lay-up. Jahmar Thorpe scored the final point of the game when he made the first of two free throws with 20 seconds left.
The Owls worked the ball to Morris Almond for two three-point attempts in the final six seconds, but his final shot fell short and Smith grabbed the rebound to seal the victory.
In addition to Smith and Lafayette's combined 39 points, Jahmar Thorpe recorded his first double-double performance of the season with 10 points and a career-high 12 rebounds and Chris Lawson scored 10 points off the bench.
With the victory, Houston improved to 19-7 overall this season and the Cougars enter their final regular season game at Memphis Saturday night with a 9-4 Conference USA mark.