CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Rice placed five players in double-figures on its way to an 89-70 win at Charlotte to pick up its first conference win of the season.
With the win, Rice improves to 11-5 and 1-1 in Conference USA.
Marcus Evans had a game-high 25 points, while also recording five rebounds and four assists. It was his eighth 20-point game of the year. Egor Koulechov recorded his third double-double of the year with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Connor Cashaw had a season-high 16 points and seven rebounds and Marcus Jackson had 16 points and four rebounds. Andrew Drone added 10 points and four boards off the bench.
Rice opened the game scoring seven of the first 10 points. Charlotte then hit three of four free throws to pull within one before the teams traded baskets. Evans then drilled a three and Jackson made a layup to make it a 14-8 game.
After a Charlotte basket, Cashaw hit a three. Jon Davis scored a bucket, but Koulechov answered with his first three, giving Rice a 20-12 lead 7:49 into the game and forcing a 49er timeout.
The game remained that way for the next two minutes. After the teams traded baskets, Cashaw made a layup and Koulechov hit a three. Charlotte scored the next six points to pull within 27-22, but Koulechov’s third three of the half sent the Owls on an 11-3 run to take their largest lead of the half, 38-25, with 3:29 to play. However, Rice turned the ball over four times the rest of the way as Charlotte closed the half on an 8-0 run as Rice entered the break with a 38-33 lead.
Rice opened the second half on a 9-0 over the first 2:24 to take a 47-33 lead. The teams then traded baskets for the next three minutes. Rice then went on an 8-2 run to take a 60-45 lead with 11:17 to play.
The teams then went back and forth over the next 6:11. But Rice went on a 14-4 run to put the game away.
The Owls shot 50.0% (35-of-70) from the field and 47.1% (8-of-17) from three. Charlotte was 27-of-61 (44.3%) from the field and just 3-of-13 (23.1%) from beyond the arc. Rice also outrebounded the 49ers, 46-to-35.
Rice begins a three-game homestand this Thursday, Jan. 5, when it hosts Middle Tennessee. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT and will be broadcast on beIN Sports.