DENTON, Texas – A season-high 15 three-pointers were not enough for Rice University men’s basketball to hold off North Texas in a 75-65 setback on Saturday evening at The Super Pit. The Owls knocked down 12 treys in the opening 20 minutes but cooled off to shoot just 21 percent from the field in the second half as the Mean Green rallied for the win.
Head coach Mike Rhoades said, “They held us to 20 points and we had some big turnovers in the second half. We got timid around the rim. We had some good drives but then we would turn the ball over and we missed some layups. They’re longer and more athletic than us so we’ve got to go through those guys and draw fouls. We always tell the guys to attack. We’ve got to put pressure on them, but we were avoiding contact tonight. When we did get to the foul line, we didn’t shoot it as well as we have been and that was disappointing.“
Seth Gearhart led the Owls with 20 points on 7-of-15 shooting, including a 4-of-6 mark from downtown. The senior added five rebounds and an assist. Marcus Jackson matched his career high with five three-pointers on 11 attempts. He finished with 18 points, three rebounds and a steal.
Bishop Mency also tallied double figures as the freshman sank all four three-point attempts for 12 points. He added three assists in a team-high 35 minutes of action. Max Guercy dished out eight of the team’s 15 assists on the night to accompany four rebounds and three points. He sank his only three-point attempt in the game.
Jeremy Jones turned in his best performance of the season with season highs of seven points and six rebounds. The freshman added an assist, a block and a steal in 18 minutes off the bench. Andrew Drone tied Jones for the team lead with six rebounds of his own. The sophomore added one point and a blocked shot.
The Owls put on a shooting clinic in the first half, sinking 12-of-19 three-pointers and 64.0 percent of overall field goals. In addition to matching its season high in three-pointers made in just 20 minutes, the Owls also posted their highest-scoring first half of the season to claim a 45-37 advantage at the intermission.
The second half was virtually the opposite for the Owls, as the team connected on just 20.8 percent of attempts and 3-of-8 three-pointers. North Texas chipped away at its deficit and tied the game at 58-58 with eight minutes to play. Once the home team took the lead, it never gave it up while working up to a double-figure advantage in the waning moments as Rice connected on just two of its final 19 attempts from the field.
Rice owned a 33-28 advantage on the glass, including 10 offensive boards. The Owls shot 42.9 percent from the field on the night, compared to 56.6 percent by the Mean Green. NT connected on 5-of-12 three-pointers and 10-of-16 free throws while Rice sank just 8-of-15 attempts from the stripe.
The Owls’ 17 turnovers became 20 North Texas points, while Rice scored 15 points off of 10 NT miscues, including a pair of fast break points. Rice heads to Marshall on Thursday to face the Thundering Herd before closing out the road trip at Western Kentucky next Saturday.
NOTES: The team moved into a tie for ninth place in program history with 179 three-pointers on the season … the mark was originally reached by the 1988-89 squad.