HOUSTON - Rice came back from a 13-point second half deficit to defeat Montana State, 83-78, Monday night at Tudor Fieldhouse.
With the win, Rice improves to 3-1 on the year. Montana State falls to 3-2.
Marcus Evans had a team-high 24 points while grabbing six rebounds. He has scored at least 20 points in all four games and in seven straight dating back to last season. Egor Koulechov had 15 points and six boards and Marcus Jackson added 15 points, four rebounds and four assists. Marquez Letcher-Ellis had eight points and 10 rebounds and Chad Lott had eight points and five boards.
Rice trailed 43-34 to start the second half. Baskets by Tyler Hall and Sam Neumann gave the Bobcats their largest lead of the game, 47-34, a minute and a half into the second stanza. But the Owls took over. Jackson hit a pair of free throws and Evans and Cashaw hit consecutive three-pointers to cut the deficit to five. Harald Frey pushed the lead back to seven with a layup. Letcher-Ellis made one-of two free throws and Jackson hit a pair. Lott then stole the ball and went in for an uncontested dunk. Letcher-Ellis made a layup and, following a steal, Jackson went in for a dunk to give Rice a 51-49 lead with 12:26 to play, its first lead since 17-12 in the first half.
Frey tied the game with a layup. But Evans connected on a four-point play. After Quinton Everett hit a three, Koulechov drove in for a layup. Hall tied the game at 57 with a three-pointer, but Evans jumper put Rice up by two. MSU retook the lead at 60-59when Sam Neumann connected on a three-point play midway through the second half.
Rice scored seven straight points to take a six-point lead. Frey hit two free throws, and Evans found Corey Douglas for a layup. Hall then hit a three to cut the deficit to three points. But, five straight points gave Rice its largest lead of the game, 73-65, with 6:10 to play.
The Bobcats scored 10 of the next 14 points to pull within 77-75 with 1:14 to play. But a layup by Evans followed by four straight free throws iced the game for the Owls.
Montana State started things off with a three-pointer. Rice answered with an 11-2 run to take an 11-5 lead just 4:24 into the game. The Bobcats scored five straight to cut the deficit to one. But, the Owls scored six of the next eight points to lead 17-12 with 11:17 to play in the first.
That's when MSU took over hitting four three's on its way to 14-0 run and a 26-17 lead with 8:33 to play and forcing a Rice timeout. However, the Owls responded. Two free throws by Jackson followed by baskets by Letcher-Ellis, Koulechov and Lott gave Rice an 8-0 run to cut the deficit to 26-25 with five minutes to play. However, the Bobcats responded with an 8-1 run to push the lead back to eight. Four straight free throws by Ako Adams and Jackson brought the deficit to four.
But three straight three-pointers gave MSU a 9-2 run and its largest lead of the first half, 43-32 with just under a minute to play. However, Austin Meyer's putback as time expired brought Rice to within 43-34 at the half.
Rice connected on43.6% (24-of-55) from the field and just 26.1% (6-of-23) from three. Montana State was 25-of-66 (37.9%) from the floor and 13-of-31 (41.9%) from three. The Owls were just 29-of-43 (67.4%) from the charity stripe but outrebounded MSU, 47-to-39.
Rice closes out its homestand this Wednesday, Nov. 23, when it hosts Delaware State. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT and will be live-streamed at CUSA.tv.