Rice Rallies to Defeat Florida Atlantic in Overtime, 81-75

By: Tim Andrzejewski (tim.andrzejewski@rice.edu)

Feb. 11, 2017
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BOCA RATON, Fla. - Marcus Evans scored a game-high 28 points to lead Rice to an 81-75 comeback, overtime victory over Florida Atlantic, Saturday night at FAU Arena.

Evans, who also grabbed a season-high tying six rebounds, was 8-of-18 of the floor, 2-of-5 from three and a perfect 10-of-10 from the free throw line. He has now connected on 20 straight free throws.

Egor Koulechov recorded his seventh double-double of the year with 19 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. He also became the 34th player in school history to score 1,000 points. Marquez Letcher-Ellis recorded his first double-double of the year with 11 points and 10 boards and Connor Cashaw added 13 points.

"We fought it today," said Rice head coach Mike Rhoades. "We didn't have enough responsibility of taking good shots. But, I'm glad we won. We finally got a road sweep. I loved our grit at the end. We relied on our defense. Today was a day that we had to hang our hat on our defense and we did that.

Rice scored the first five points of the game. FAU cut the lead to 5-4, but Cashaw hit a three and Koulechov made three straight three's as Rice went on a 12-2 run to take a 17-6 lead. Jeantal Cylla made a basket, but Chad Lott answered with a layup to give Rice a 19-8 lead with 12:56 to play in the half.

However, Rice went cold, missing 11 straight shots over the next seven minutes as Florida Atlantic scored 21 consecutive points to take a 29-19 lead. Marcus Jackson finally stopped the run with a three-pointer as Rice went more than seven minutes without a point.

After an FAU basket, Lott and Koulechov hit back-to-back buckets to bring Rice to within 31-26. However, Florida Atlantic scored eight of the next 10 points to take its largest lead at 39-28 with 2:08 to play in the half.

Cashaw hit a jumper. A minute later, Jackson hit two free throws. Rice held FAU, got the last shot and Evans drilled a three at the buzzer to send Rice into halftime down 39-35.

The second half began with the teams trading three-pointers. After William Pfister made a layup to push the deficit to 44-38, Rice went on a 15-5 run to take a 53-49 lead with 11:26 to play. However, FAU scored eight of the next 11 points over the next 1:53 to take a 57-56 lead.

Koulechov then hit a jumper and Adonis Filer made one-of-two free throws to tie the game at 58. Koulechov made a driving layup, but Florida Atlantic scored six-of-seven points to lead 64-61 with 3:20 to play.

Rice responded with a 6-1 run of its own to take a two-point lead. But, Evans picked up his fourth foul and Filer tied the game with a pair of free throws with a minute left. Both teams had opportunities to take the lead in the last minute, but neither could take advantage, sending the game into overtime.

Koulechov opened the extra stanza with a jumper. FAU took the lead on a basket from Filer and a Pfister free throw. Evans and Letcher-Ellis each made a pair of free throws to give Rice a 73-70 lead, but Gerdarius Troutman tied the game with a three. After the teams traded baskets, Evans gave Rice the lead on a driving layup. Letcher-Ellis then clinched the win with four straight free throws.

Rice was held to just 40.0% (24-of-60) from the field but was 40.9% (9-of-22) from three and 77.4% (24-of-31) from the foul line. FAU was just 28-of-76 (36.8%) from the floor and 8-of-28 (28.6%) from beyond the arc. Rice also outrebounded FAU, 50-to-41.

Rice begins a four-game homestand next Thursday, Feb. 16, when it hosts UTSA. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT and will be live-streamed by CUSA.tv.





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