ANCHORAGE, Alaska - In its third game in less than 40 hours, Rice University men's basketball found itself on the wrong end of a 65-54 decision in the GCI Great Alaska Shootout finale against host Alaska Anchorage on Saturday at the Alaska Airlines Center.
Sophomore Andrew Drone tallied a career-high 15 points to lead the Owls (1-5) on 5-of-9 shooting with 5-of-7 free throws. The center added five rebounds in 24 minutes of action. Freshman Maurice Rivers notched a season high in points for the second-straight day, with 11. His six rebounds paced the squad for a second-straight day. The Atlanta, Ga. native shot 4-of-8 from the floor and added an assist and a block in 23 minutes off the bench.
Drone scored the first five points of the game in the opening 90 seconds to help the Owls stake an early 12-point lead. However, powered by 18 first-half points from Travis Thompson - including four three-pointers - the Seawolves (2-4) battled back to take a narrow 35-32 advantage into the intermission.
The Owls regained the lead early in the second half and held UAA scoreless for the first 6:55 of the frame. The teams then battled back and forth for much of the frame before Alaska Anchorage used a nine-point run to claim a 59-48 lead with just less than three minutes to play. Rice battled to the end, including a string of four-straight free throws from Max Guercy to cut the deficit to seven. UAA responded to make six of its final eight free throws to stifle the comeback. Guercy finished with six points and a pair of assists.
Marcus Jackson dished out seven assists to lead the team. The Owls notched assists on 13-of-16 field goals made in the game. Rice shot 32 percent from the field, including just 6-of-23 in the second half as the team felt the effects from its stretch of three-straight games. After sinking eight or more three-pointers in each of the season's first five contests, the Owls knocked down just 4-of-24 on Saturday.
Seth Gearhart chipped in double-figure points for the fourth-straight game with 12 and hauled in four rebounds. In three tournament games, the senior tallied 50 points on 42.9 percent shooting to lead the team at the event.
For the second game in a row, the Owls owned an advantage on the glass, bringing down 32 rebounds to UAA's 27. Rice converted 12 offensive rebounds into 14 points while limiting the Seawolves to three second-chance points.
UAA's Thompson finished with a game-high 28 points, including six three-pointers. Brian McGill passed out 10 of the home team's 16 assists as the team shot 40.9 percent from the field and 10-of-26 from long range.
The Owls make the long return trip home to host Houston Baptist on Wednesday, Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. at Tudor Fieldhouse.