Dec. 2, 2017
By: Tim Andrzejewski (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Freshman forward Malik Osborne led Rice with a career-high 14 points and six rebounds. Junior guard Connor Cashaw scored 12 points and had a game-high eight boards. Sophomore guard Robert Martin recorded 11 points, six rebounds and a career-best four assists and senior guard Bishop Mency added 10 points.
Rice (2-6) trailed 66-54 with 5:33 to play. Ako Adams made a layup, then stole the ball and was fouled, making two free throws to pull within eight points. UTRGV (4-6) then made three of four free throws to push its lead to 69-58 with 3:42 remaining in the game.
Martin made one-of-two free throws and then Cashaw converted a three-point play. Xavier McDaniel, Jr. missed a layup and Adams grabbed the rebound, was fouled and hit both free throws. A minute and a half later, Cashaw hit a three to pull the Owls to within 69-67 with 1:04 to play.
Following a timeout, Nick Dixon missed a layup and Cashaw got the rebound. But, Cashaw's three-pointer was off and the rebound went out of bounds. Adams immediately fouled Javon Levi on the inbounds play and Levi missed the front end of a one-and-one. Cashaw again corralled the rebound with 19 seconds left. He drove the length of the court before he was stopped, and fired a pass to an open Mency at the top of the key. However, Mency's last second three-pointer went off the back of the iron and the comeback attempt was not enough.
"I thought our guys did a really good job down the stretch of handling the comeback the right way in terms of taking good shots and making plays defensively to give us a chance to win the game," said Rice head coach Scott Pera. "It's really hard when it comes down to just one play at the end. I thought there were some plays during the game that would have helped us have a lead and not play from behind. But, a lot of credit goes to (UTRGV). They did a great job. Ultimately, they made more plays than we did."
Adams started the game with a three-pointer. UTRGV scored twice, but Osborne hit his first three of the year to give Rice a 6-4 lead. However, the Vaqueros made seven straight baskets as they went on a 17-4 run to take their largest lead of the half, 21-10, 6:50 into the game.
But back-to-back three-pointers from Cashaw and Osborne propelled the Owls to a 10-0 run over the next 3:23 to pull Rice to within 21-20.
UTRGV scored seven of the next nine points to push their lead to six. Rice again pulled to within one point before a UTRGV basket made it 32-29 with 4:49 remaining in the half. But the Vaqueros missed their final five shots as Rice ended the half on a 7-0 run, capped off by a Mency three-pointer.
Rice connected on just 36.5% (19-of-52) from the field and 36.4% (8-of-22) from three. Rice was also just 21-of-31 (67.7%) from the free throw line. UTRGV was 27-of-61 (44.3%) from the floor and just 8-of-28 (28.6%) from beyond the arc. UTRGV also outscored the Owls 21-to-9 off turnovers.
Rice will take a week off for exams before returning to the court next Saturday, Dec. 9, when it travels to Nacogdoches to face Stephen F. Austin. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m. CT and the game will be livestreamed on ESPN3.