HOUSTON — Lamar University was unable to overcome a slow start offensively dropping their season opener at No. 17 Houston, 89-45, Wednesday afternoon. The loss to the Cougars snapped a string of five-straight season-opening victories for the Red and White.
Houston native Anderson Kopp led the Cardinals with 15 points, including an 8-of-9 (.889) effort from the free throw line. Unfortunately for Big Red, Kopp was the only Cardinal in double figures on a day where LU shot 15-of-50 (.300) from the field, and just 1-of-13 (.077) from three-point range. Senior Avery Sullivan added eight points and seven rebounds.
The offense struggled to get going due in large part to turnovers. LU finished the game with 22 miscues, including 12 in the final 20 minutes. The nation’s 17th-ranked team cashed in the free possession for 25 points.
Houston also struggled out of the gate, but eventually found their rhythm from long range and never cooled off. The Cougars knocked down 30-of-72 (.390) attempts, with nearly half their makes coming from three-point range (13-of-33). The Cougars finished the game with two players in double figures led by Marcus Sasser’s 35 points.
It was clear that it was the first game of the season for both schools as neither team could find the basket early. Nearly two minutes had gone by before either team got on the scoreboard, but Houston eventually found the range from three-point land knocking down four of their first seven attempts to take an early lead. While Houston started to heat up, Big Red struggled converting just two of their first nine attempts. The Cougars took advantage of LU’s early struggles rattling off a 10-2 run to build a 11-point advantage, 17-6.
The Cardinals were also hurt by miscues in the opening minutes surrendering nine turnovers which Houston converted into seven early points.
The Cardinals finally settled down and following a Kopp triple and a Sullivan mid-range jumper to trim the deficit down to just six with less than nine minutes remaining in the half. Unfortunately, the Cardinals could get no closer as Houston responded with a Dejon Jerreau layup which sparked a 7-0 run for the home team. The Cougars closed the half with another run (11-3) to take a 35-15 lead into the locker room.
Big Red came out of the locker room with some fire opening on a 7-2 run to trim the deficit down to 37-22. The Cards’ run was sparked by junior Lincoln Smith who scored five points to go along with a Sullivan basket. Unfortunately, the turnover bug hit LU again in the second half as Houston took advantage of the Cardinal miscues. Houston continued to extend their lead in the latter stages of the second half for the victory.
LU returns to action Friday when they open play in the Tulane Classic. The Cardinals will take on tournament-host Tulane in the opening round of the tournament Friday at 1 p.m.