By: Tim Andrzejewski (email@example.com)
Box Score | USATSI Gallery
HOUSTON - Marcus Evans scored 23 points to reach 1,000 career points, but it was not enough as Rice fell in overtime to UAB, 88-81.
Evans scored 1,000 points in just 49 games, breaking the school and Conference USA records held by Ricky Pierce (51 games) and Dwyane Wade (52 games), respectively. Evans also recorded six assists and five rebounds. He has now scored 20 points in three straight games and 10 games overall this year.
Egor Koulechov scored a game-high 29 points while grabbing eight rebounds. It is his second straight 20-point game and his eighth of the season. Marquez Letcher-Ellis added 12 points and four rebounds.
Rice (11-6, 1-3 C-USA) led 64-59 with 5:41 to play in the second half. Four straight UAB free throws cut the deficit to one. Letcher-Ellis got a dunk to extend the lead, but a three-point from William Lee tied the game at 66. After Chad Lott made one-of-two free throws Lee gave the Blazers the lead with a jumper, then Hakeem Baxter forced an Evans turnover and converted a three-point play to take a 71-67 lead with 2:47 to play.
Evans bounced back with a three to cut the deficit to one, but Lee made two free throws to make it a three-point game. Letcher-Ellis made one-of-two free throws and then following a defensive stop, Koulechov tied the game with a driving layup with 14 seconds left. After UAB called a timeout, Denzell Watts hit a three-pointer with 2.5 seconds left. However, Koulechov was fouled on his three-point attempt and made all three free throws to send the game to overtime tied at 76.
UAB got on the board first in the extra period with a Deion Lavender jumper one minute in. A minute and a half later, Javien Williams made one-of-two free throws. Koulechov finally got the Owls on the board with a pair from the charity stripe to cut the deficit to one. However, the Blazers turned three Rice turnovers into points, going on a 7-0 run to put the game away.
The teams opened the game trading baskets. Koulechov then hit a three to send the Owls on a 9-4 run to take a 13-6 lead just six minutes into the game. UAB cut the lead to three, but Letcher-Ellis hit a three as Rice scored eight of the next 10 points to take its largest lead of the game at 21-12.
But the Blazers began to chip away at the lead. UAB made five of their next six shots over the next five minutes, going on a 16-7 run to tie the game at 28. Koulechov hit a three to give Rice a 31-28 lead. But consecutive baskets by the Blazers gave them their first lead of the game, 32-31, with 1:39 to play in the half.
After the teams exchanged three-point plays, Austin Meyer found Connor Cashaw for a layup with six seconds left. However, Williams drove the length of the court and was fouled with 0.6 seconds on the clock, hitting one-of-two free throws to send the teams into halftime tied at 36.
Rice shot 45.8% (27-of-59) from the field and 82.6% (19-of-23) from the free throw line but was just 8-of-27 (29.6%) from three. UAB was just 26-of-65 (40.0%) from the floor and 6-of-20 (30.0%) from three but was 30-of-33 (90.9%) from the charity stripe.
Rice closes its homestand next Saturday, Jan. 14, when it hosts North Texas. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m. CT and will be live-streamed at CUSA.tv.