Feb. 20, 2014
NORFOLK, Va. – A valiant effort by Rice University men’s basketball came up just short of a victory on Thursday night at Old Dominion, as the Monarchs escaped with a 55-51 win at the Ted Constant Convocation Center.
The Owls (7-18, 2-10 C-USA) rallied back from seven points down at the half to take a lead before the ODU offense powered back with a 13-2 run to end the game. Rice pushed its advantage to 49-42 with six minutes remaining before the Monarchs (13-14, 7-5) scored on five of their next six possessions to take the lead for good at 52-51 with two minutes to play.
Rice had four opportunities to tie or regain the lead down the stretch, but came up empty with two missed layups, a turnover and a missed front end of a one-and-one free throw situation. ODU left the door open for the Owls, knocking down just 3-of-6 foul shots over the final minute of play.
Sean Obi was the center of the Rice offense as the freshman post player led the squad with 11 points on 5-of-12 shooting. He added 10 rebounds to notch his 10th double-double of the season, as well as two of Rice’s three blocks, an assist and a steal.
Max Guercy added 10 points on 3-of-6 shooting with a pair of three-pointers. The sophomore added four rebounds as well. Keith Washington led the team with four assists off the bench and also found his scoring touch. He tallied nine points with 2-of-4 three-pointers and hauled in three boards.
Austin Ramljak also scored nine points, including a 3-of-8 mark from downtown. The senior added three rebounds, two assists and a steal on the night. Ross Wilson converted both of his attempts from the field for four points in 11 minutes of action.
The Owls got Obi involved early, as he made both of his first two shots for Rice’s first four points. The freshman’s presence in the post helped open up the perimeter as Guercy sank two of Rice’s four first-half three-pointers en route to eight points in the opening 20 minutes, which tied with Obi for the team lead at halftime. After the Owls overcame a six-point deficit early on, ODU scored the half’s final six points to take a 32-25 cushion to the locker room.
Rice held ODU scoreless for the first four and a half minutes of the second period, but only scored once over that span itself. Marcus Jackson then scored seven of the Owls’ next 10 points and timely three-pointers from Washington and Ramljak closed the gap and put the Owls in front, 40-38. Jackson was 5-of-5 from the foul line, passed out four assists and frustrated the Old Dominion ball-handlers with three of the team’s six steals.
For ODU, Richard Ross racked up 18 points and 10 of his team’s 43 rebounds.
The Owls shot 34.8 percent from the field and 7-of-22 from downtown. Rice also stifled Old Dominion’s shooters in the second half to a 31.8 clip from the field in the final 20 minutes. For the game, the Monarchs converted 38.2 percent of their attempts and just 3-of-22 three-pointers.
Rice closes out the road trip on Saturday at East Carolina. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m. ET at Williams Arena against the Pirates.
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