COUGARS REPORT

Here's how Houston was able to rally and beat Rutgers

The Coogs are moving on. Photo by Getty Images.

The Houston Cougars men's basketball team advanced to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament after a hard fought battle with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Sunday.

Their tournament began with a blowout victory over Cleveland State in the opening round.

Quentin Grimes led the way with 18 points to help the Cougars beat No. the 15-seed Vikings 87-56 Friday night.

Head coach Kelvin Sampson tied John Wooden by earning his 664th career win and sits at No. 38 for all-time coaching wins.

Less than one minute into the contest, senior guard DeJon Jarreau suffered a hip injury that forced him to miss the rest of the game.

Freshman Tramon Mark played the majority of Jarreau's minutes and added 15 points. Marcus Sasser also stepped up in his absence and scored 14 points.

Jarreau would sit out the remainder of the game for precautionary reasons, and to rest him before the Cougars next game.

"DeJon has been our MVP this season," Sampson said. "Quentin has been our best player but DeJon has been our most important player and I think doing this tonight will give us some confidence going forward."

Houston's next game in the round of 32 was against the No. 10 seed Rutgers Scarlet Knights who upset the No. 7 seed Clemson Tigers.

Jarreau was cleared to play, and was ready to help his team win as he made the first two points of the game and Grimes hit an open three to give the Cougars a quick 5-0 lead.

At one point, Houston's largest lead was 14-7. Rutgers wouldn't give up that easily as they went on a 13-4 run to take a 20-18 lead with 4:14 left to go in the first half.

During this stretch Houston went more than 7 minutes scoring only one field goal thanks to Rutgers playing a fierce interior zone defense, forcing the Cougars to take heavily contested shots.

Marcus Sasser played sparingly in the first half after picking up two quick fouls as did senior forward Justin Gorham.

Rutgers took a 30-27 lead at halftime and Houston looked out matched against this Scarlet Knights' defense.

Shortly after the second half started, Jarreau's hip started to bother him again, and he was forced to sit out for some time.

During his absence, Rutgers took a commanding lead, and at one point were up 50-40 over the Cougars.

Houston looked lost without their leader and Jarreau made his way back into the game as if he was Willis Reed in the 1970 NBA Finals.

"My hip hurt so bad," Jarreau said, "but I just didn't want to go home."

His return to the court provided an excellent spark for a Cougar comeback.

The Cougars were slowly chipping away at their deficit when Jarreau hit a 3-pointer to get them within 58-53 with just over 4 minutes left.

Houston stepped up their defense as Rutgers was only able to score two points in the remaining 4 minutes of the game.

The Cougars were down 58-60 when Jarreau missed the game tying shot, but Tramon Mark secured the rebound, and was fouled as he scored the equalizer to tie the game at 60-60.

Mark made his free throw, thus giving Houston their first lead since the first half. The score was 61-60 with 24 seconds left in the contest.

The next Rutgers possession Geo Baker had the ball stolen from him by Marcus Sasser and Sasser was fouled on his way to an open rim.

Sasser made both of his free throws to give the Cougars took a 63-60 lead.

With nine seconds left in the game, Rutgers set up a play to get Ron Harper Jr open to hit a game tying 3. The play was executed correctly, but Harper missed the shot.

Mark obtained the rebound to secure Houston's spot in the Sweet 16.

Although not the prettiest victory, it was a great win nonetheless according to head coach Kelvin Sampson.

"We have some of these (ugly games) occasionally. We have a lot of pretty ones, too," Sampson said. "On nights we shoot well, we look good, but there's not a lot of teams that can play as poorly as we did and still win, and we've done that a lot."

Quentin Grimes was the leading scorer with 22 points and the captain, Jarreau, added 17 points as well.

"I can't even tell you how bad we wanted it," Jarreau said. "Just will to win, will not to go home."

UP NEXT: Houston will now take some days off as they await their Sweet 16 matchup with No. 11 seed Syracuse on Saturday, March 27th at 8:55 CT.

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The losing streak continues

Mariners get walk-off win over short-staffed Astros

Alex De Goti had an impressive debut. Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

After a brutal homestand capped off by losing five players to the IL for health and safety protocols, the once 5-1 Astros brought their now 6-6 record to T-Mobile park in Seattle to try and right the ship. They'd have to do it with new and young players in the lineup using the "next man up" mentality to get some wins against the first-place Mariners.

Though the young bats would work themselves into a lead most of the night, Houston's bullpen wouldn't be able to hold the Mariners down, with Seattle ultimately walking things off in the ninth.

Final Score: Mariners 6, Astros 5

Astros' Record: 6-7, fourth in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Anthony Misiewicz (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Ryne Stanek (0-1)

After a quiet start, Houston gets three in the fifth

After cruising through the Astros through the first four innings, allowing only a walk over that span, Houston was able to put up a big inning against Yusei Kikuchi in the top of the fifth. Carlos Correa notched the first hit of the night, followed by a walk by Taylor Jones to put two on base.



That brought Alex De Goti, making his major-league debut, to the plate and, in his second career at-bat, would get his first hit and RBI, bringing in Correa from second on a single. A second run would come on the same play on a throwing error, then Chaz McCormick made it a three-run inning with an RBI-double, putting Houston out front 3-0.

Urquidy comes an out shy of a quality start

Meanwhile, Jose Urquidy was doing well through five innings. On track for a much-needed quality start, the Mariners would tag him in the bottom of the sixth, getting three-straight hits to bring in two runs to lead off the frame and leaving a runner on second base with no outs.

Urquidy would rebound to get the next two batters on strikeouts, but at 90 pitches and with a left-handed hitter up next, Dusty Baker would bring in lefty Brooks Raley to try and get out of the inning with the one-run lead intact. Raley would do his job, putting Uruidy's line final: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 90 P.

Teams trade two-run seventh innings

The young bats for Houston struck again in the top of the seventh, with Jones and De Goti leading it off with back-to-back singles before Jason Castro would load the bases with a walk. With two outs, Aledmys Diaz would push the lead back to three with a two-RBI single, making it 5-2.

With Raley out after facing his one batter, next out of Houston's bullpen was Bryan Abreu to help maintain Houston's lead. Instead, he would give up two runs on two hits and a walk while getting just two outs before Baker moved on to Blake Taylor, who would get the last out of the seventh with Houston hanging on to a one-run lead at 5-4.

Mariners get the walk-off win

Taylor remained in the game in the bottom of the eighth, and after getting an out, would allow a game-tying solo home run to Evan White before injuring himself trying to field an infield single. Ryne Stanek entered and finished off the eighth, sending the tie game to the ninth.

After Houston came up empty in the top half, Stanek remained in the game in the bottom of the ninth, attempting to force extras. Back-to-back walks ended Stanek's night, with the Astros hoping Ryan Pressly could bail them out. He couldn't, though, giving up the walk-off hit as the Mariners would take the opener, 6-5.

Up Next: Game two of this three-game set will start an hour earlier on Saturday, with first pitch at 8:10 PM Central. Zack Greinke (1-1, 4.08 ERA) will try to rebound from a poor start his last time out for the Astros, while the Mariners will hand the ball to Chris Flexen (1-0, 4.50 ERA).

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