BOCA RATON, Fla. – Rice University men’s basketball won its fourth game in the last five outings as Max Guercy scored a career-high 25 points to lead the team to a 76-69 win at Florida Atlantic on Saturday night at FAU Arena. The junior guard knocked down 9-of-13 shots and dished out six assists in the win.
Head coach Mike Rhoades said, “I’m really excited we found a way to gut it out. It was a gut-check late in the game. I was really proud of our guys the way we handled the last few minutes. It wasn’t pretty but we figured it out. On the road, sometimes you’ve got to win ugly, and tonight was ugly but we’ll take it. I was really proud of Max. I know he had a couple turnovers late, but he played a great game. He really brought us some energy and it went a long way.”
In addition to Guercy’s 25, Seth Gearhart added 24 points of his own. The senior shot 7-of-13 from the field, 4-of-6 from downtown and sank all six free throw attempts on the night. He added four rebounds, one assist, one block and a steal in 36 minutes of action.
Rice (10-16, 7-7 C-USA) started strong, scoring the game’s first eight points off of three FAU turnovers in the opening two minutes. FAU rallied back to take its first lead at 15-13 midway through the period. The teams battled to eight lead changes in the opening 20 minutes before Rice regained momentum late in the frame to take a 39-32 lead into the locker room. Gearhart scored the team’s final eight points of the frame to bring his total to 16.
The visitors started strong in the second half, scoring the game’s first six points and running the lead up to 45-33 before the home team got on the board. Rice led by as many as 13 points before the home team rallied to cut its deficit to four points, 62-58, with just under four minutes to play. Rice maintained its distance until the final 30 seconds, when an FAU three-pointer cut it to 70-67. The homestanding Owls were forced to foul and Rice converted all of its free throws down the stretch to keep the game out of reach.
Rice converted 14 FAU turnovers into 25 points on the other end and outscored the home team in the paint, 28-24. FAU edged Rice on the glass, 28-24.
The visiting Owls shot 49.0 percent from the field, 8-of-19 from downtown and a perfect 18-of-18 at the foul line. FAU shot 50 percent from the field, 7-of-16 on three-pointers and 14-of-23 from the charity stripe.
Solomon Poole led his team with 22 points while the FAU (8-17, 1-13) bench chipped in 31 points.
Rice returns home for its final two home games of the season. The Owls host Old Dominion on Thursday at 7 p.m. and welcome Charlotte on Saturday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. on Senior Day.
NOTES: The squad took over second place on the program’s single-season three-pointer list with (230) (prev. 229, 2012-13) … the record is 237, set by last year’s team.