By: Tim Andrzejewski (firstname.lastname@example.org)
NORFOLK, Va. -- Rice held Old Dominion to just 34.7% shooting on its way to a 75-66 victory Saturday afternoon at the Ted Constant Convention Center.
It was the Owls' first-ever victory over Old Dominion. It was Rice's first C-USA road victory.
In his return to Virginia, Marcus Evans led the Owls with 20 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Egor Koulechov had 17 points and seven rebounds and Andrew Drone had 10 points and six boards. Marquez Letcher-Ellis added 10 points and five rebounds.
"I'm just really proud of our guys," said Rice head coach Mike Rhoades. "I really challenged our guys (after Thursday night) to come out here on the road against a great team and just fight. We got off to a good start and made our presence known and I couldn't be prouder of (them). That was a program win for us.
Old Dominion (14-11, 7-5 C-USA) scored the first seven points of the game, but Rice (9-16, 4-8) answered with eight straight to take an early 8-7 lead, 4:31 into the game. Aaron Bacote hit a three, but Koulechov tied the game with a jumper.
The Monarchs made two straight baskets before Letcher-Ellis converted a three-point play. The teams traded baskets for the next two and a half minutes. With the game tied at 18, Koulechov hit a jumper to give Rice its first lead of the game with 8:05 left in the half.
Trey Freeman hit two straight jumpers to regain the lead for ODU, but Cashaw converted a three-point play and Evans made a layup. ODU again tied the game with a three, but Bishop Mency answered with one of his own. After a basket from Freeman, Rice scored six straight points to take a 34-27 lead with 3:27 to play.
The teams traded a pair of baskets and Evans and Max Guercy went three-of-four from the line to end the half and send Rice into the break with a 39-31 lead.
Rice scored the first six points of the second half to increase its lead to 14. After trading baskets, Koulechov and Drone hit layups to give Rice its largest lead of the game, 49-34, with 13:40 to play.
However, Old Dominion went on a 10-2 run over the next 2:46 to cut the deficit to seven. Rice pushed the lead out to 62-51 with five minutes to play. The game stayed that way until 1:55 left, when Max Guercy hit a jumper with the shot clock winding down to increase the lead to 13.
The Monarchs cut the deficit to six with 48 seconds to play, but the Owls hit five-of-six free throw to seal the victory.
Rice was 20-of-43 (46.5%) from the field, including 5-of-11 (45.5%) from three. ODU was just 25-of-72 from the floor and 6-of-23 (26.1%) from three. The Owls were 30-of-38 (78.9%) from the charity stripe while the Old Dominion was just 10-of-18 (55.6%) Rice also outrebounded ODU, 42-to-38.
Rice returns home next Thursday, February 18, when it hosts Florida Atlantic. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT.