Nov. 16, 2016
HOUSTON - Marcus Evans' game-winning three-pointer bounced out and Rice dropped its 2016-17 home opener, 71-68, to crosstown foe Texas Southern Wednesday night.
Evans scored 22 points and had five rebounds and five assists. It was his 22nd career 20-point game and his fifth consecutive dating back to last season. Egor Koulechov had 14 points and seven rebounds and Connor Cashaw had 12 points and five boards. Corey Douglas added 11 points, a team-high nine rebounds and three blocks.
"We had a chance to win the game," said Rice head coach Mike Rhoades. "I thought we played harder late in the game to get back in it, even though we were never really out of it. We were just lackluster and careless with the ball. We had no feel for the game. It was disappointing. We had a chance at the end but had a couple of negative plays. We should never have a game like this the rest of the season where we beat ourselves. We had 22 turnovers. You're not going to beat anyone with 22 turnovers, especially a good team like Texas Southern."
Rice led 35-31 entering the second half. However, the Owls started the half just 1-of-11 from the field through the first 7:30 as TSU outscored them, 17-6 to take a 48-41 lead, its largest of the game.
Back-to-back baskets by Koulechov and Evans cut the deficit to two, but a layup by Kevin Scott and two free throws by Lamont Walker pushed the lead back to seven.
A jumper by Douglas and four straight points by Evans pulled Rice within 52-51 with 7:06 to play. But a basket followed by a Walker three-point play gave the Tigers a six-point lead.
The teams went back-and forth over the next three minutes. Cashaw hit a three to cut the deficit to 65-63 with 2:56 to play. Over the next two minutes, the made just two free throws apiece.
With just under a minute to play, Walker was fouled by Evans and made the ensuing free throws to make it a four-point play. But, Evans came right back with a three-pointer to pull the Owls within one, 69-68, with 48 seconds remaining.
Marcus Jackson then pulled down a rebound after a missed Zach Lofton jumper. After a Rice timeout with 9.1 seconds left, Evans attempted a three-pointer from the top of the key. But, it rimmed out and Kevin Scott grabbed the rebound before getting fouled, icing the game with a pair of free throws.
Added Rhoades, "We fought it too much today. Sometimes when you turn the ball over you think you have to make a play for your team. We have to have a better balanced of knowing what you need to do. But we'll get better at that."
Rice connected on 41.0% (25-of-61) from the floor and 30.8% (8-of-26) from three. TSU was just 23-of-73 (31.5%) from the field and 4-of-25 (16.0%) from beyond the arc. However, Texas Southern was 21-of-24 (87.5%) from the line while the Owls were just 10-of-12 (83.3%) and TSU forced Rice into 22 turnovers while turning it over themselves just nine times.
Rice goes back on the road this Saturday, November 19, when it travels to Omaha, Neb., to face Nebraska-Omaha. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m. CT.