SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.--Rice got down early and could not catch up, falling 80-54, to San Francisco Monday night at War Memorial Gymnasium.
"When you bang three's early in the game it creates great momentum on both ends of the floor," said Rice head coach Mike Rhoades. "Our urgency to find people wasn't there early. We fought back; it was 15 points at one point because we were driving the ball and making plays in the lane. But, then we started chucking shots. The one thing with this team is that we have to do a better job of being in the moment. Sometimes, and we've shown it for two games now, we get rattled and we start to try to do everything ourselves."
USF scored 10 of the first 12 points of the game before Koulechov hit a three-pointer to make it 10-5. Devin Watson made a layup, but a three-pointer by Evans followed by a layup from Koulechov pulled the Owls to within 12-10. The teams traded baskets, as Rice trailed 14-12 seven minutes into the game.
But, Rice turned the ball over four of the next five possessions as the Dons went on a 13-0 run over the next 4:27 to take a 27-12 lead. Marquez Letcher-Ellis finally stopped the bleeding with an uncontested dunk.
The teams again traded baskets before USF scored seven straight points to take its largest lead of the first half, 36-16, with 3:50 to play.
Layups by Bishop Mency and Koulechov got the Owls to within 16 points. But, the Dons scored five of the last seven points to lead, 41-22, at the half.
Koulechov got Rice started in the second half, driving in for a layup on its first possession. After Donte' Reynolds hit a pair of free throws, Andrew Drone hit a layup and Koulechov got a tip-in off of his own miss to pull the Owls within 15 points. But, San Francisco scored seven straight points to take control of the game.
Rice shot just 33.8-percent (22-of-65) from the field, including just 18.2% (4-of-22) from three. San Francisco connected on 50.8% (31-of-61) from the floor and 47.1% (8-of-17) from three. The Dons also won the rebounding battle, 45-to-33.
Watson led USF with 12 points. Tim Derksen, Ronnie Boyce and Uche Ofoegbu all added 10 points for the Dons.
Rice begins a five-game homestand this Thursday, Nov. 19, when it hosts Oregon State. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. CT and will be televised by the American Sports Network.