NORFOLK, Va. – Rice University men’s basketball fought hard for 40 minutes, but the Owls were unable to deal Old Dominion its first home loss of the season in a 63-53 setback on Thursday night in front of 7,457 fans at the Ted Constant Convocation Center.
Marcus Jackson led the Owls in scoring for the fourth-straight Conference USA game with 15 points, including three baskets from beyond the arc. The sophomore dished out four of the Owls’ 11 assists without a turnover, hauled in four rebounds and swiped a pair of steals.
Head coach Mike Rhoades said, “We needed to shoot the ball better to hang around. We made it a game for most of the night. Once again, we got down in a hole and beat ourselves. It was around the 16- or 14-minute mark when we just gave the ball to the other team and they capitalized. We didn’t shoot it as well as we need to. Our margin of error is small and we know that. When we have open shots we’ve got to make more of them. We have been doing that but we didn’t today.”
Max Guercy scored in double figures for the third time in league action with 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting with a 3-of-6 mark from downtown. He added three assists and three rebounds in 33 minutes.
The teams battled back and forth with three ties and three lead changes in the opening 20 minutes before the Monarchs took a 27-21 advantage to the locker room. Jackson paced the visitors with eight points in the opening frame, including a pair of three-pointers. Andrew Drone chipped in six points on 3-of-5 shooting.
ODU came out firing in the second half and briefly opened a 10-point advantage before Bishop Mency responded with a three-pointer. Rice then battled back to within five points before the midway point of the period. ODU responded to regain a double-figure advantage and kept the Owls at a distance until the final minute of play when the Owls pulled within seven points with 55 seconds remaining. The Monarchs sank 5-of-6 free throws after that point to deter any further comeback attempt by the visitors.
Drone finished with eight points on 4-of-8 shooting with three rebounds in 24 minutes while Mency added six points and led the team with five rebounds to accompany a pair of assists in 33 minutes of action.
The 53 points were the Owls’ fewest of the season as Old Dominion leads C-USA in scoring defense. Despite the low output, Rice shot 44.4 percent from the field in the second half to finish with a 39.6 percent clip in the game. The Owls added eight three-pointers on 25 attempts, including five after the intermission. Rice was kept off the foul line in the first half and finished with an uncharacteristic 3-of-6 mark from the stripe in the game.
ODU owned a 38-23 edge in rebounding behind 11 boards from Jonathan Arledge, who finished with 15 points as well. Aaron Bacote led the Monarchs with 25 points, including a 4-of-4 mark from downtown. ODU shot 47.6 percent from the field and connected on 6-of-11 three-pointers.
Rice converted 16 turnovers into 16 points and outscored the home team in the paint, 25-24.
The Owls close out the two-game road trip on Saturday at Charlotte. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. CT at Halton Arena.
NOTES: ODU improved to 9-0 at home on the season … Jackson boasts a 9-0 assist-to-turnover ratio over the last two games … the sophomore averages 21.0 points per game in C-USA action.