HOUSTON, Texas--For the second straight game ,Rice started out hot, but could not keep it going, as Fresno State snapped a five-game losing streak to the Owls, 82-65, Sunday night in the Roundball Showcase.
With the loss, Rice falls to 0-4 for the first time since the 2007-08 season.
Marcus Evans had career-highs of 25 points, six assists and five rebounds. Koulechov scored 18 points and had five rebounds and Andrew Drone scored a season-high 10 points .Max Guercy added seven assists.
Rice scored the first points of the game. Fresno State (4-0) made a layup to get on the board, but Evans found Drone for a dunk and Guercy made one-of-two free throws to give the Owls an 8-2 lead just 3:17 into the game. However, the Bulldogs went on a 20-8 7:56 to take a 22-16 lead.
Koulechov hit a three and Evans made two free throws to get back to within one point. Paul Watson made a jumper to push the lead to three. But, layups from Evans and Drone put Rice in front, 25-24 with 5:48 to play in the half.
Watson made one of-two from the line to tie the game at 25 before Karachi Edo gave the Bulldogs the lead with a dunk. Evans made a pair from the charity stripe to tie the game at 27. But, Fresno State scored nine of the next 12 points to take a 36-30 lead.
Evans made two more free throws to get within four points, but Cezar Guerrero hit a three with 23 seconds remaining to send FS into the half with a 39-32 lead.
"(Fresno State) has upperclassmen and we don't have many of them," said Rice head coach Mike Rhoades. "I always talk about turnovers; live turnovers that lead to baskets and unforced turnovers. That hurt us in the end of the first half. We had a couple open shots late that we didn't make. We just made a couple of bonehead plays. But, that's part of having a young team. We have to play through it."
The second half began with Rice missing its first five shots. Guerrero hit a three and Watson made a layup to push the lead to 12. The Owls finally got on the board in the second half when Koulechov drilled a three, three minutes in.
Torren Jones made two free throws before Connor Cashaw made a jumper to pull the Owls back to within nine points with 15 minutes to play. However, Rice would get no closer.
Added Rhoades, "I thought some guys had urgency today and others had urgency when they made a mistake. You can't accumulate mistake on top of mistake and we did that. We have to play better defense. We have to grind better on the defensive end. There's going to be a lot of mismatches that aren't in our favor. We know that. It's still not an excuse. We have to find some ways where we can stop some people."
Rice shot just 38.9% (21-of-54) from the floor and 34.8% (8-of-23) from three. Fresno State connected on 55.3% (26-of-47) from the field and 50.0% (8-of-16) from behind the arc. The Bulldogs also won the rebounding battle, 35-to-27.
Mountain West Preseason Player of the Year Marvelle Harris led all players with 26 points and six assists. Watson and Guerrero each had 15 and Edo added 10 points and 10 boards.
Rice hosts Lamar in the final game of the Roundball Showcase this Wednesday, Nov. 25. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT.