HOUSTON — When Covington took a 43-35 lead after an 11-0 run in just 2:17 into the second half, it appeared the Buccs were well on their way to a third-straight win.
But Houston rallied behind a spark from senior guard Tristin Freistuhler and won 79-65. The Wildcats (7-14) have won four of their last five games.
Houston had four players score in double figures with Brennan Arnold leading the way with 19 points. Freistuhler dropped in 14 points, while James Douglas had 13 and Adam Winner scored 11 points.
Houston went into the break with all of the momentum from finishing a high scoring first half strong to claim a 35-33 lead — only to see Covington score points in bunches after the break on two layups by Kleyton Maschino, a stick back by Gray Harshbarger and a trey by Tyler Fraley.
With 5:43 left in the third, Covington had swung the momentum of the game and forced Houston to take a timeout to regroup.
And regroup the Wildcats did on a night where they honored their seniors in the final home game.
After the timeout, Houston scored nine straight points and ultimately closed out the third quarter on an 19-7 run to claim a three-point lead with one quarter to play, 54-51. The spark plug for Houston was Freistuhler, who canned two momentum-changing treys in the run.
And the Wildcat lead quickly increased to start the final frame as it once again went on a big run — this time a 12-3 scoring advantage to push its lead to 66-54 midway through the frame.
Covington, which had shot well from the floor through much of the first three quarters, suddenly found it difficult to find the bottom of the net on wide open looks at the basket. The only bucket the Buccaneers could manage over the first three minutes of the final frame was a three-pointer by Tyler Fraley.
But Covington mounted a comeback with a pair of buckets by Chad Yohey and two more by Andrew Cates and Kleyton Maschino.
The Buccaneers were forced to foul as the clock became an issue and Houston converted on 10-of-12 free throws in the final frame to pulled out the win.
“Tonight we had a great team victory,” Houston coach Mark Platfoot said. “The first half we struggled a little because John (Leist) was in foul trouble and sat most of the half. And to start the third we came out flat… after a timeout our team responded and really played well the rest of the game. It was great for the seniors to win on senior night. I could not be more happy with our effort.”
Covington had a solid offensive night with Maschino matching Houston’s leading scorer with a game-high 19 points, while Yohey had 15 points and Cates dropped in 14 points.
Sidney Daily News sports editor Bryant Billing contributed to this article.