HUNTINGTON, W. Va. - A 15-2 run early in the second half broke open a tight contest and Rice University men's basketball was unable to recover in a 69-55 loss to Marshall on Thursday evening at the Cam Henderson Center.
Head coach Mike Rhoades said, "They were a buzz saw coming out of the half and we just weren't very tough today. It's hard to play tough on the road, but we've been doing that. We've been aggressive and we've been competing and going at people, so it's disappointing that we didn't do it tonight. You keep moving forward and then you take a step back here and there. Today was a step back and we've got to learn from it."
Andrew Drone sank all three of his first-half attempts to lead the Owls early on and finished the game with 11 points on 4-of-4 shooting, along with a team-high eight rebounds in 22 minutes.
Bishop Mency sank three of his three-pointers after the intermission to pace the team with 13 points. The freshman added four rebounds and three steals. Max Guercy reached double figures with 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting to accompany four assists, three rebounds and a pair of steals.
Seth Gearhart added three treys for nine points and matched Guercy for the team lead with four assists of his own. The senior chipped in three rebounds and a steal as well. Jeremy Jones tallied four points, three rebounds and two steals in 14 minutes off the bench.
In a back-and-forth first half that featured five lead changes, the Owls jumped out to an early eight-point lead before the Herd found its footing. Marshall then rallied back and led by as many as five points before settling into a 28-24 lead at the intermission. Rice hauled in the game's first nine rebounds and owned a 16-13 edge on the glass in the opening 20 minutes behind five from Drone, who also led the visitors with nine points in the period.
Marshall came out of the break with a hot shooting hand and knocked down seven of its first nine attempts from the field to open a 48-32 lead. The Herd went on to extend its advantage to as many as 18 points before the Owls heated up from long range. Rice cut it back to a 12-point game at the mid-way point of the period, but Marshall stemmed the run to regain momentum en route to the 69-55 final.
The Owls shot 36.4 percent from the field and 9-of-31 from downtown. Rice scored 26 points off of 16 Herd turnovers, including 10 steals. Marshall shot 52.9 percent from the field and 10-of-25 from downtown.
Ryan Taylor led the home team with 17 points, 11 rebounds and seven of his team's 14 assists.
The Owls wrap up the road trip on Saturday at Western Kentucky. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. CT in Bowling Green, Ky. and the game will be broadcast on Fox College Sports Central.