March 20, 2012
ROCHESTER, Mich. - Despite trailing by its biggest deficit of any first half this season, Rice mounted a furious second half comeback that in the end fell short and spelled an end to the Owls' season. In the quarterfinals of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament Rice dropped a 77-70 decision to Oakland Tuesday at the O'Rena.
Rice ended its season at 19-16. Oakland improved to 20-15 and will play either Loyola Marymount or Utah State in the tournament's semifinal round this weekend.
The Owls turned the tables on their first possession of the second half. Arsalan Kazemi got the second-period rally started with a dunk on the first possession after intermission and at the other end Lucas Kuipers blocked a Reggie Hamilton shot.
Tamir Jackson later drilled a three-pointer to give Rice the first five points of the half. Within three minutes of the half, Rice got the lead down to single figures as Jackson found Kazemi open for another jam. Rice trailed 49-40 at that point.
"It wasn't the kind of start we would have liked to have had but at the same time give credit to Oakland," said Rice head coach Ben Braun. "They were the aggressive team. They knocked down some shots and played confidently.
"That was a big hole to dig," he said. "But as our guys have done all year long, they fought and I thought we were the dominant team in the second half."
Oakland would later answer a Rice run that got the lead down to six as Hamilton had four free throws which bookended a layin doubling the Golden Grizzlies' advantage to 12, 63-51 with just over 10 minutes to play.
Rice would get the lead down to as few as three points. After a Tamir Jackson layin cut the lead to five, Rice held the Grizzlies to a pair of missed field goals and a turnover before another Jackson layup made the score 63-60 with 7:11 to play.
Oakland's last field goal of the game came with 5:09 to play when Hamilton scored again, giving the Grizzlies a 67-62 lead.
The nation's leading scorer at better than 26 points a game this season, finished with 30. He was 14-for-14 from the free throw line to go along with an 8-for-18 performance from the field. He also had four assists.
Following Hamilton's last field goal, Oakland made 10 of its last 12 at the line.
A Lucas Kuipers' three-pointer with 2:58 to play cut the Oakland lead to 71-65 but at the other end, the officiating crew bailed Hamilton out of a trap near midcourt with five seconds on the play clock as they called a foul on Kazemi.
Trailing 73-65, Dylan Ennis nailed a long three to get the Oakland advantage back to five, 73-68, but another foul called on the Owls deep in the play clock led to another Grizzly free throw.
Oakland converted on 25-of-34 free throws. Rice went to the line just nine times, converting seven.
Oakland shot 56 percent in the first half but was held to 26 percent shooting in the second period. The Owls outrebounded the Grizzlies 39-36, marking the only time this season Rice lost when winning the war on the boards.
Jackson led Rice with 16 points and five assists while Ennis scored 14 and also had five assists.
Rice trailed 48-30 at the break. It was the second most points the Owls had given up in a first half this season.
Oakland set the tone early, knocking down 10 of its first 14 shots.
Rice cut an early double-digit lead to six on back-to-back layins by Omar Oraby. His bucket with 6:28 to play cut Oakland's lead to 31-26.
The Golden Grizzlies would rally for 13 unanswered points starting with a Valentine three-pointer. The run would include a possession in which Oraby was whistled for a flagrant foul and Hamilton made two free throws. Off the ensuing inbounds play, Travis Bader knocked down a three-pointer in the corner to put the Grizzlies up 44-25.