Jan. 16, 2014
HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Max Guercy knocked down a career-high five three-pointers on Thursday night at Southern Miss, but Rice University men’s basketball was unable to overcome a 43-20 rebound deficit in an 84-62 setback in the team’s first Conference USA road game of the season.
Guercy led the Owls (5-11, 0-3 C-USA) with 15 points on 5-of-12 shooting. The sophomore added three of the team’s 18 assists on the night and pulled in three rebounds as well. As a team, Rice passed out 18 assists on 24 field goals. It was the second-straight game for the Owls to dish out 18 assists.
Not to be outdone, Austin Ramljak knocked down four three-pointers of his own on 10 attempts. The senior totaled 14 points, two rebounds and a pair of assists in the game.
Rice shot 43.6 percent from the field with 12 three-pointers on 34 attempts. USM connected on 51.9 percent of its field goal attempts and 10-of-20 shots from downtown. The home team also benefitted from a 26-6 advantage in free throw attempts.
Extreme full-court pressure flustered the Owls early on as Southern Miss (15-3, 2-1) built a 26-11 lead midway through the opening period. From there, Rice powered back with a 17-8 run to close the half with just a 34-28 deficit. Guercy matched his previous career high with four three-pointers in the opening 20 minutes as the Owls knocked down six first-half treys.
After the intermission, USM regained momentum with four quick points off of a pair of Owl turnovers. Ramljak then scored eight of Rice’s first 10 points in the frame to keep the score close. After knocking down just 1-of-7 three-pointers in the first 20 minutes of action, Southern Miss sank 9-of-13 from downtown after the intermission to help regain a cushion. Though the Owls stayed close for a majority of the frame, USM ended the game with a 15-8 run to provide the final margin.
Sean Obi led Rice in rebounding for the 14th time this season with five boards, including four on the defensive glass. On his 19th birthday, the rookie added nine points and swatted both of the team’s blocks.
Freshman Marcus Jackson returned to action after missing three games with an injury to tally three points, an assist and a steal off the bench. Classmate Drew Bender made the first start of his career and dish out one assist in limited action.
USM scored 21 second-chance points off of 15 offensive rebounds and outscored Rice by a 34-18 mark in the paint. Michael Craig scored 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting off the bench to lead the home team, which saw five players score in double figures.
The Owls close out the two-game road trip on Saturday at Tulane. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at Devlin Fieldhouse.