ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Senior Seth Gearhart notched a season-high 22 points, including 19 in the second half, to pull Rice University men's basketball back from a double-figure deficit, but the Owls ran out of time in a 76-74 setback to Washington State at the Great Alaska Shootout. Rice closes out the event on Saturday at 3 p.m. CT against host Alaska Anchorage.
The senior sank 7-of-13 shots with a pair of three-pointers and knocked down 6-of-8 free throws to pace the squad. He added five rebounds and four assists without a turnover in 26 minutes of action. It was the second-straight game that he notched a season-high in points as he tallied 16 points in 41 minutes on Thursday night in the overtime contest against Mercer.
The Owls (1-4) fell into a 12-0 hole before the offense found its footing. The Owls broke the scoreless streak with a pair of quick baskets, but Washington State continued its hot shooting and opened the lead to 26-9 midway through the frame. As had been the case in the previous two games, the Owls fought back relentlessly as Marcus Jackson scored eight-straight points for the team to bring the deficit down to single digits. The Owls clawed back as close as 37-33 shortly before the break, but the Cougars took a 39-33 lead into the locker room.
Rice quickly brought it back to a four-point game early in the second half, but the Cougars (2-3) regained control with a run to regain a 12-point lead six minutes into the frame. Trailing 64-53 with five minutes left on the clock, the Owls then closed the gap to six points at the two-minute mark and five points with 55 seconds left in regulation. Washington State sank 6-of-10 free throws in the final minute to keep the Owls at bay, though the Blue and Gray pulled within one possession on a pair of Gearhart free throws with eight seconds to play and again on a Max Guercy layup with one second left.
Jackson finished with 14 points with three three-pointers to accompany five assists, while Guercy also tallied double figures with 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting to pair with six rebounds. Senior Dan Peera continued his incredible shooting to open the season as he notched a career-high 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting with a pair of three-pointers. In five games, the guard has knocked down 12-of-13 field goals and 7-of-8 three-pointers to average 6.4 points per game.
Freshman Maurice Rivers posted season highs with six points and eight rebounds. He surpassed his previous season marks in the first half alone and knocked in all four free throws. Andrew Drone added seven rebounds to accompany five points.
The Owls owned a 22-10 lead in points in the paint in the second half to finish with a 32-26 advantage in the category. Rice also out-rebounded the Pac-12 opponent, 39-32, with 13 second-chance points on 13 offensive rebounds.
WSU's Josh Hawkinson scored 27 points on 11-of-18 shooting with eight rebounds and a pair of blocks in 37 minutes. After a slow shooting start, Rice shot 45.5 percent in the second half and 40 percent in the game with 8-of-22 three-pointers and 14-of-20 free throws.
The Owls close out the Great Alaska Shootout on Saturday against host Alaska Anchorage at 3 p.m. CT. Washington State faces Missouri State in its tournament finale.