CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) Amid all the new faces on this year's team, Houston coach Kelvin Sampson is glad he's got experienced senior Jamal Shead to lead the way.

Shead had 16 points and got the sixth-ranked Cougars off to a fast start in a 69-55 victory over Dayton to win the Charleston Classic championship on Sunday night.

LJ Cryer, the Baylor transfer, led the way with 18 points off four 3-pointers. But it was Shead's confident, knowledgeable approach that led the Cougars to their 34th all-time regular-season tournament title in the eight-team event.

“Jamal's been with me four years,” said Sampson, whose team opened 6-0 for a second straight season. “There's a level of trust built up that you don't have after five months” with incoming transfers.

“Jamal's been on a Final Four team, an Elite Eight team, a Sweet 16 team” with the Cougars, Sampson said. “He knows the way I want him to play. He knows the way the team should look.”

The Cougars looked, mostly, as good as Sampson could hope in their three games at College of Charleston's home court. They defeated Towson, Utah and the Flyers (3-2) by double digits after quickly opening up leads.

Shead, who started his 66th straight game for Houston, also added six rebounds, four assists and two steals.

Cryer averaged 16.7 points for the three wins here and was named the event's most outstanding player.

The Cougars took advantage of Dayton's cold start - the Flyers made just one of their first seven shots - to open an early double-digit lead. The Flyers came as close at 19-15 after that until Houston responded with an 11-3 burst to restore the large margin.

The Cougars were able to keep Dayton at arms length and took a 36-28 lead into the break. They continued pushing the pace and eventually opened a 54-34 lead midway through the second half.

DaRon Holmes II had 16 points for Dayton.


Dayton: The Flyers had to rally in the second half in their first two Charleston games in beating LSU and St. John's. They could not get away with it a third straight game as they managed to shoot just 26.9% (7 of 26) in the final 20 minutes.

Houston: Cougars coach Kelvin Sampson talked throughout the tournament of the struggles in pulling together this group that lost three starters from a 33-win team a year ago. The blending process seemed to go very well in these three game.


Houston was relentless on the boards and with its defense, both hallmarks of Sampson's best teams. The Cougars had 17 offensive rebounds to Dayton's nine. They scored almost three times as many points off turnovers as their opponents, 16-6, and had seven steals to just three for Dayton.


It was the second straight game Houston took on an opponent it hadn't played in decades. It defeated Utah in the semifinals, 76-66, a team it last played during its Phi Slama Jama days in December 1982 in Tokyo. It was even longer between matchups with Dayton, where these teams last faced off in 1975.


Dayton returns home to play Youngstown State on Friday night.

Houston plays at home against Montana on Friday.


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