By: Tim Andrzejewski (firstname.lastname@example.org)
RUSTON, La. -- Louisiana Tech scored 33 points off of 23 Rice turnovers as the Owls fell behind early and could never catch up, dropping a 74-64 decision, Thursday night at the Thomas Assembly Center.
Marcus Jackson scored a team-high 18 points on 6-of-8 from the field, including 5-of-6 from three. Marcus Evans had 11 points and Egor Koulechov had nine points and a game-high nine rebounds to record his 1,000th collegiate point.
"That was not good enough," said Rice head coach Mike Rhoades. "(Louisiana Tech) is a very good team and we needed to be a whole lot sharper. It's disappointing. Until we take it upon ourselves to take care of the basketball, we're always going to put ourselves behind the eight ball. It's just disappointing."
Louisiana Tech scored five of the first six points. Koulechov hit a layup but Jacobi Boykins drilled a three. After the teams traded points, Connor Cashaw converted two Bulldog turnovers into baskets to pull Rice within 10-9, 6:16 into the game. However, La Tech scored eight of the next ten points to take an 18-11 lead.
Evans cut the lead to four with a three-pointer, but the Bulldogs went on a 9-2 run to take a 27-16 lead. Koulechov then made a jumper and Marquez Letcher-Ellis hit a three to cut the deficit to 27-21 with 6:04 to play in the half. But, Louisiana Tech answered with back-to-back baskets.
Letcher-Ellis followed with four straight points, but both times the Bulldogs answered with a three. Derric Jean made a dunk before Jackson hit a three to cut the lead to ten. La Tech scored five straight points, but Koulechov made a pair of free throws to send Rice into halftime trailing 46-33.
Louisiana Tech opened the second half with a pair of turnovers. Jackson got the second half scoring started with a three to cut the deficit to 10. However, Louisiana Tech went on a 12-3 run to take a 58-39 lead. The Owls got back-to-back buckets from Evans and Koulechov, but the Bulldogs answered with a 10-1 run to take its largest lead of the game at 68-44 with 8:41 to play.
They slowly trimmed away at the lead, but it was not enough.
Rice connected on just 42.1% (24-of-57) from the field but hit 44.0% (11-of-25) from three. Louisiana Tech was 29-of-62 (46.8%) from the floor and 8-of-22 (36.4%) from three. The Owls outrebounded La Tech, 39-to-33.
Rice closes its road trip this Saturday, Jan. 21, when it travels to Hattiesburg, Miss., to face Southern Miss. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m. CT and will be live-streamed at CUSA.tv.