By: Tim Andrzejewski (firstname.lastname@example.org)
HOUSTON - Rice connected on a season-high 16 three-pointers, but it was not enough as the Owls fell, 80-72, to Old Dominion, Thursday night.
Marcus Evans scored a game-high 23 points on a career-high tying six-of-seven three-pointers. It was his 11th 20-point game of the season. Marcus Jackson had 17 points and Egor Koulechov had 12. Marquez Letcher-Ellis added seven points and a team-high nine rebounds.
"It was a tough game from start to finish," said Rice head coach Mike Rhoades. "I like the fight that we had, but we couldn't find ways to score near the basket. We made some shots late. But, we're not consistent on the offensive end and we gave (Old Dominion) too many easy baskets."
Jackson got things started with a three. After an ODU basket, Letcher-Ellis made one-of-two free throws and Evans hit a three. B.J. Stith made a layup but Jackson answered with another three for a 10-4 Rice lead just 3:28 into the game.
Old Dominion (12-8, 5-3 C-USA) then went on a 16-2 run over the next 6:43 to take a 20-12 lead. However, a Connor Cashaw three-pointer sent the Owls on a 9-0 run, retaking the lead at 21-20, 2:21 later. ODU hit two straight baskets, but Jackson tied the game at 24 with his third three of the half.
Rice (13-8, 3-5) then missed its next three shots and the Monarchs went on an 11-1 run to take a 35-25 lead. Letcher-Ellis made one-of-two free throws, but Evans grabbed the rebound off the second and made a three to pull within 35-29 with 1:12 to play. But, ODU scored the last four points of the half to send Rice into the break trailing 39-29.
The Monarchs opened the second half on a 14-4 run. After an Evans three-pointer, ODU scored consecutive baskets. Jackson then hit a pair of free throws and Koulechov made a three. But Old Dominion scored five straight points to take its largest lead of the game, 63-41, with 10 minutes to play. Rice tried to fight back but could get no closer than eight points the rest of the way.
Despite connecting on 16-of-30 (53.3%) from three, Rice was just 20-of-53 (37.7%) from the field. Old Dominion was 54.8% (32-of-59) from the floor but just 28.6% (4-of-14) from three. The Owls were also outrebounded for the second straight game, 42-to-59. ODU also outscored Rice in the paint, 38-to-8.
Rice closes its homestand this Saturday, Jan. 28, when it hosts Charlotte. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT and will be live-streamed by CUSA.tv.