HOUSTON, Texas – Andrew Drone tallied 14 points and a career-high nine rebounds to lead Rice University men’s basketball past St. Edward’s, 54-49, on Saturday night at Tudor Fieldhouse. The sophomore shot 5-of-7 from the field in the second half and 7-of-11 on the night.
Head coach Mike Rhoades said, “They’re a good team and we have a small margin of error to pull games out find a way to win. We can’t keep throwing the ball away or not be strong with it. We did a little bit better job down the stretch today of following the plan and it’s great for our conference. When you take a couple of close ones on the chin, you need to win a close one to get some momentum.”
Neither team shot the ball well to open the contest as the Hilltoppers mounted a four-point lead. It was short-lived, as the Owls powered back for a 9-8 lead and extended it to as many as six points during the nine-point run. Rice led by eight points late in the half, but SEU pulled within 23-20 at the intermission.
Drone scored three of the Owls’ first four baskets to open the second half as the team worked up to a quick seven-point lead. Though St. Edward’s rallied to tie the game twice in the second half, the Owls never trailed after the intermission and knocked down some clutch shots in the latter stages of regulation to keep the visitors at bay.
Bishop Mency came off the bench to knock down three shots from long range in the first half and finished the game with 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting. The rookie was one of three Owls to dish out three assists in the game and he added a pair of rebounds in 26 minutes as well.
Marcus Jackson knocked down a late three-pointer to help Rice maintain the lead and finished the game with 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting. He added three boards, two assists and two steals on the night. Seth Gearhart filled the box score eight points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals in the win.
After shooting 60 percent from the field in the second half, the Owls pulled their mark up to 44.7 percent in the contest. The team knocked down 6-of-17 three-pointers but just 6-of-13 free throws on the night. SEU connected on 31.7 percent of its shots and 4-of-17 three-pointers.
The teams were even on the glass with 38 rebounds apiece, but the Owls dominated scoring in the paint by a 30-18 margin. Rice has outscored its opponent in the paint for four-straight games. SEU scored 14 points off of 18 Rice turnovers, but the Owls pulled six steals and turned 12 Hilltopper miscues into 10 points on the other end.
Rice takes a break for final exams before closing out its home stand on Dec. 18 against St. Thomas. Tipoff is set for 11:30 a.m. in Tudor Fieldhouse for the second-annual School House Mania game.
NOTES: Freshman Jeremy Jones, who joined the team on Dec. 1, saw his first action of the season in a three-minute stint … the forward sank his only attempt, a three-pointer … freshman Jordan Reed entered Saturday’s game with two rebounds on the season but hauled in five in 17 minutes of action.