SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Max Guercy scored 11 points to become the 32nd member of the 1,000-point club, as Rice fell at UTSA, 85-80, Sunday afternoon.
Guercy also had six rebounds and six assists to join Dana Hardy as the only two players in school history with 1,000 points, 400 assists, 300 rebounds and 100 steals.
Rice (5-10, 0-2 C-USA) trailed 41-33 at the half. Andrew Drone converted a three-point play to cut the deficit to five. However, UTSA (3-12, 1-1) scored nine straight points to grab a 50-36 lead four minutes into the second half. Connor Cashaw hit one-of-two free throws, but Christian Wilson made a jumper. Guercy then drilled a three before finding Letcher-Ellis for a dunk to get the Owls back to within 10 points. But, UTSA answered with five straight points of its own to lead 59-44 with 13 minutes to play.
The Owls scored seven of the next nine points to cut the deficit back to 10 points. But, UTSA went on a 12-1 run to take its largest lead of the game, 73-52, with 8:06 to play.
But, Rice was not done. Evans hit a layup to jumpstart an 11-0 run over the next 2:46 to get the deficit back to 10. Wilson pushed the lead back to 12 with a layup. After Koulechov and Ryan Bowie traded three-pointers, Koulechov hit a pair of free throws. Rice got a stop and Guercy found Evans for a three-pointer.
Wilson missed the front end of a one-and-one and Evans took the ball the length of the court for a layup, was fouled, and made the free throw. Letcher-Ellis then stole the ball from Nick Billingsley, who got the ball to Guercy for a layup to get the Owls to within 80-78 with 1:28 to play.
Cashaw then got his hands on J.R. Harris' pass. Guercy found Koulechov at the top of the key, but his three-point attempt bounced off the back of the rim and Billingsley grabbed the rebound.
After a UTSA timeout, Wilson drove in for a layup to push the lead to four points. Guercy missed a layup and immediately fouled Wilson who made both free throws. Evans then drove in for a dunk with five seconds to play, but it was too late.
"They had the momentum the whole game," said Rice head coach Mike Rhoades. "We didn't guard the ball at all today. Once again, it goes back to our defense. You give up 56-percent in college basketball, you're not winning. Our discipline on the ball was lacking. I've got to keep grinding these guys to get it right."
Andrew Drone got things started for Rice, taking Egor Koulechov's pass and putting it in for a dunk. J.R. Harris made a three-pointer, but Max Guercy hit Drone for another dunk. The Roadrunners then scored eight straight points to take an 11-4 lead, 3:46 into the game.
A Cashaw jumper and a three from Evans cut the deficit to two points, but Billingsley answered with a three of his own. After Letcher-Ellis got a layup, neither team scored for two minutes until Billingsley made one-of-two free throws. Koulechov made a pair from the foul line, but Gino Littles hit a jumper. But dunks from Letcher-Ellis and Evans tied the game at 17 with 9:08 to play in the first half.
However, UTSA immediately scored six straight points to take the lead for good.
Rice was 28-of 65 (43.1%) from the field, but connected on just 28.0% (7-of-28) from three. UTSA shot 55.8% (29-of-52) from the floor and was 7-of-19 (36.8%) from three. The Roadrunners won the rebounding battle, 36-to-29, and scored 25 points off of just 11 Rice turnovers.
Rice closes its three-game road trip next Saturday, January 9, when it travels to Denton, Texas to face North Texas. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m. CT and will be televised by ASN.