Koulechov's Career Day Leads Rice to 87-79 Win at Incarnate Word

Nov. 26, 2016

By: Tim Andrzejewski (tim.andrzejewski@rice.edu)

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SAN ANTONIO, Texas - Egor Koulechov recorded his second straight double-double, scoring a career-high 35 points while pulling down 13 rebounds to lead Rice to an 87-79 win at Incarnate Word Saturday afternoon.

Rice has now won four straight and improves to 5-1 for the first time since 2004-05. The Owls have scored 80 points in four straight games for the first time since 2006-07 and have won their first three road games for the first time since 1953-54.

Koulechov was 10-of-16 from the field, 6-of-6 from three and 9-of-10 from the free throw line. His six three-pointers tie a career-high. He's also just the second player in school history to hit six three-pointers without a miss.

Marcus Evans had 20 points and four assists. Marcus Jackson had 14 points, four assists and three rebounds. Marquez Letcher-Ellis added six points and eight rebounds.

"It was a great game," said Rice head coach Mike Rhoades. "It was a gut-check for us in the second half. We had to do a good job on defense of stopping (Incarnate Word) from scoring the first eight-to-ten seconds of the possession. We had to make them earn it. At times we did it and at times we didn't. When we didn't do that, they got back in the game quick."

Both teams started as slow. Rice missed its first six shots and turned the ball over five times in the first six minutes and Incarnate Word grabbed a 7-1 lead. Jackson hit a three-pointer for Rice's first basket and Koulechov hit a layup to bring Rice within one, 7-6. After UIW (2-2) hit three-of-four free throws, Koulechov hit a layup and Jackson and Austin Meyer went three-of-four from the line to give Rice its first lead of the game, 11-10, midway through the first half.

Simi Socks hit two free throws to put the Cardinals up one. But, Koulechov scored seven straight points to send Rice on a 16-3 run to take its largest lead of the game, 27-15, with 5:11 to play in the half.

Incarnate Word answered, scoring eight of the next nine points over the next 1:23 to pull within five. The teams went back and forth until Koulechov hit back-to-back three-pointers to give Rice a 40-29 lead with 43 seconds remaining. However, Jalin Hart hit a layup and Shawn Johnson stole the ball and hit a three just before the half to cut Rice's lead to 40-34 at the break.

The second half began with Shawn Johnson hitting a three for UIW. Evans hit a jumper and Tyler Singleton made two free throws. But, Evans hit a three to push the lead to 45-39. After the teams traded baskets, Corey Douglas hit a layup but Johnson answered with five straight points to cut the deficit to 49-46. Letcher-Ellis hit two free throws but five straight UIW points tied the game at 51 with 12:17 to play in the game.

Twice Rice took the lead but Incarnate Word tied it both times. With 9:30 to play and the game tied at 58, Rice Koulechov hit a three. Socks answered with a layup, but Koulechov hit another three. However, the Owls could not push the lead to more than four points over the next seven minutes.

Rice held a 69-67 lead with 3:45 to play. Connor Cashaw hit a three and Jackson connected on a pair of free throws to push the lead to seven. Socks converted a three-point play to cut the lead to four. Evans hit a jumper and Socks hit two free throws. However, Rice connected on 11-of-12 free throws to seal the game.

Rhoades added, "We had better poise in the second half, especially the last seven minutes. We took care of the ball and put pressure on the defense. We got downhill and did a really good job of managing the clock. Today was a game that we will learn a lot from and we got the win. I'm just really proud of our guys."

Rice shot 42.9% (24-of-56) from the field and 52.9% (9-of-17) from three. The Owls were also 30-of-37 (81.1%) from the line. UIW was held to 23-of-63 (36.5%) from the floor but was 8-of-18 (44.4%) from three and 25-of-30 (83.3%) from the charity stripe. Rice also won the rebounding battle, 46-to-29.

Rice returns home next Wednesday, Nov. 30, when it hosts crosstown foe Houston Baptist. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT and will be live-streamed at CUSA.tv.





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