Nov. 9, 2009
Final Stats |
Angelo State vs. Rice Game Book
Nov. 9, 2009
By MOISEKAPENDA BOWER
In Angelo State, Rice coach Ben Braun scheduled the ideal exhibition opponent for his experienced-starved yet potential-laden Owls.
The only thing Braun appreciated more than the foe was the willful manner in which the Owls responded to the challenge presented.
The Owls survived the Rams' scorching shooting in the first half and clamped down defensively in the second, fine tuning every aspect of their game in a 79-71 victory on Monday evening at Tudor Fieldhouse.
Angelo State converted 51.7 percent (15-for-29) of its shots in the first half, but a deft halftime adjustment sparked the Owls' defensive revival as the Rams hit only 32.3 percent (10-for-31) of their shot attempts following the intermission. The Owls' offensive pace also slowed after the break, but their rapt attention to detail and adroit ball handling was just enough to thwart the Rams' consistent application of pressure.
"That was a great game for us," Braun said. "We had an opportunity to play against a very quick team. They pretty much went to five guards and we had big guys in the lineup. It was a good game for us to have to get in our (defensive) stance. That's a hard matchup for our team.
"We made two adjustments. We came together and really jumped their brush screens ... and that really shut them down. And then, second of all, we also played a matchup zone, which we did a good job of as well."
The Rams' experience and frenetic style of play gave the Owls fits early. Of the four Rams who logged at least 20 minutes on Monday, three were seniors while the fourth, junior guard LaMarshall Corbett, pumped in a game-high 25 points. When the Rams weren't pressuring the Owls the length of the court, they were extending their defense in the half court. Offensively, they worked relentlessly on penetrating the paint and passing to the perimeter where awaiting shooters hoisted 3-point shots.
That strategy worked initially, with Angelo State hitting 6-of-14 from behind the arc before the break. The Owls overcame a handful of communication errors on defense by shooting exceptionally in their own right, with sophomore guard Connor Frizzelle scoring 17 of his team-high 21 points in the half to keep Rice within striking distance.
When Braun altered the defensive approach and the Owls insisted on running their offense inside out, the result was a 16-5 run out of the locker room that turned a three-point halftime deficit into a 54-46 lead with 13:21 remaining. The Rams clawed back in front six minutes later, but the Owls' resolve was strong, and Cliff Ghoram followed Lucas Kuipers' 3 with a pair of free throws that pushed the lead to 68-62.
The Rams cut the margin to three twice but pulled no closer as Frizzelle and Ghoram (13 points) reversed an earlier trend of poor foul shooting.
"It was a real good game for us to start off with, especially to get a win," Frizzelle said. "It builds up our confidence and lets us know that if things aren't going our way, especially on the defensive end, we've got enough offensive power also."
Kuipers, a sophomore forward, posted 14 points and a game-high 12 rebounds while freshman point guard Tamir Jackson paired 11 points with a game-high seven assists. The Owls turned the ball over only 11 times against the Rams' pressure, just twice in the second half, and enjoyed a 39-36 advantage on the glass. Freshman forward Arsalan Kazemi had five points and seven rebounds in 22 active minutes.
"Everyone tries to crash (the boards), and we're going to be a much better rebounding team just because we're trying to get the rebounds," Kuipers said. "Rebounding, obviously, is a really big factor (in success)."