With the win, the Owls improved to 4-1, its best record through five games since 2011.
Egor Koulechov led Rice with his first double-double of the season, scoring 15 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. Marcus Evans had 12 points and set a career-high with seven assists. Marcus Jackson had 12 points, four assists and three steals. Chad Lott set season-highs with 11 points and nine rebounds and Connor Cashaw added 11 points.
“It was a good win for us,” said Rice head coach Mike Rhoades. “I was really impressed with our defense today. I thought we did a good job of guarding and getting consecutive stops. They made some tough shots and some big shots to stay around. We did a good job in the second half of getting stops and making some good hustle plays. A lot of guys contributed on a night that we didn’t shoot the ball very well.”
Rice led 39-28 and the break. However, the Owls started the second half just 1-of-12 from the floor through its first seven minutes. A jumper by Jackson pushed the lead to 45-40. But free throws by Devin Morgan and baskets by Kavon Waller and Morgan gave the Hornets a 46-45 lead midway through the second half. Koulechov got his second putback of the half off a Cashaw missed three to regain the lead for Rice.
Koulechov and Lott made a pair of threes and following a steal by Jackson, he found Koulechov and the top of the key for a three-pointer. Koulechov then grabbed the rebound off a missed jumper and hit Evans up the middle of the court for a layup. Koulechov then hit a jumper to give the Owls a 12-0 run and a 58-46 lead with 6:12 to play.
DSU twice cut the deficit to 10 points. But the Owls went on a 13-1 run to put the game away.
Rice scored the first five points of the game. The teams then traded a pair of baskets, including a three-pointer apiece, as Rice took a 10-5 lead just 4:26 into the game. However, the Owls went cold, going six straight possessions without points. Two straight jumpers by DeVaughn Mallory and three-pointers from DeAndre Haywood and Waller gave Delaware State a 10-0 run and a 15-10 lead with 13:04 to play. Evans hit a pair of free throws to end the run.
Five straight points gave the Hornets a 20-16 lead with 8:34 to play. But, Rice stepped up its play. Ako Adams hit a pair of free throws and Andrew Drone took a charge. Evans tied the game with a jumper and Jackson gave Rice the lead after stealing the inbounds pass and laying it in.
Evans then hit Jackson for a three and Drone for a layup to cap an 11-0 run. Morgan made a jumper but Cashaw answered with a three. Two straight Delaware State baskets cut Rice’s lead to 30-26 with 2:21 to play in the half. But Rice closed the half on a 9-2 run to enter the break leading 39-28.
Rice connected on 46.0% (29-of-63) from the field but was just 8-of-32 (25.0%) from three. Delaware State was held to just 39.3% (22-of-56) from the floor and 33.3% (5-of-15) from three. The Owls were 14-of-18 (77.8%) from the charity stripe while DSU was 9-of-18 (50.0%). Rice also won the rebounding battle, 39-to-36.
Rice will stay in the state of Texas when it travels to San Antonio this Saturday, Nov. 26, to take on Incarnate Word. Tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m. CT.