Jan. 11, 2014
HOUSTON, Texas – In yet another tight game, visiting Florida Atlantic outlasted Rice University men’s basketball, 73-68, at Tudor Fieldhouse on Saturday evening. The home team fought back from 10 points down in the waning moments but was unable to get over the hump in the end.
Trailing by 10 points with just over six minutes to play, the Owls (5-10, 0-2 C-USA) cut the deficit to just one point on three occasions down the stretch. FAU seemed to have an answer each time and knocked down 6-of-7 free throws in the final minute to secure its first Conference USA win.
Rice shot 44.2 percent from the floor in the game, while FAU (5-11, 1-1) improved from a 31.0 percent mark in the first half to 50.0 percent after the break, including 5-of-12 three-pointers after halftime and 8-of-24 in the game. Rice connected on 9-of-23 three-balls in the game and shot a stellar 13-of-15 at the foul line, compared to 21-of-29 for the visitors.
Austin Ramljak and Sean Obi scored 14 points each to lead the team, including 12 of the team’s final 16 points on the night. Obi added 10 rebounds to tally his fifth double-double of the season. The freshman shot 7-of-11 from the field. Ramljak connected on 4-of-8 three-pointers on the night and added a pair of assists.
Keith Washington led the team with six assists and chipped in four points and four boards on the night. Rice dished out 18 assists on 23 field goals on the night, but turned the ball over 16 times, which turned into 18 FAU points.
Rice’s bench continued its strong play with 18 points on the evening, led by a career-high nine from Nizar Kapic and seven more from Andrew Drone. Kapic shot 3-of-4 from the field while drone added four rebounds and a pair of blocks.
Rice out-rebounded the visiting Owls by a 35-33 margin and turned eight offensive rebounds into eight second-chance points. The home team also owned a 24-to-18 advantage on points in the paint.
FAU’s Justin Raffington recorded a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds while Pablo Bertone led the team with 20 points, including a 7-of-8 mark at the charity stripe.
Each team put together a long run in the opening 20 minutes as Rice led by as many as 15 points midway through the period before FAU rallied back to pull within 30-25 at the intermission. Gearhart, Kapic and Obi scored six points each in the first half to pace the home team.
Rice faces its first road challenge of the conference season next week as the Owls travel to Southern Miss on Thursday at 7 p.m. The short road trip ends on Saturday evening at Tulane.
NOTES: For the second time in Rice’s games this season, each team held a double-figure lead … Marcus Jackson missed a third-straight game with a hip injury, but is expected to return for Thursday’s game.