By: Tim Andrzejewski (email@example.com)
HOUSTON -- Rice placed six players in double-figures as the Owls defeated Northwestern State, 100-93, Monday night at Tudor Fieldhouse.
With the win, Rice improved to 9-3. It is just the fifth time in school history that Rice has scored 100 points twice in a season. The Owls also scored 100 at Omaha.
Marcus Jackson scored 19 points and had five assists to lead the Owls. Marquez Letcher-Ellis had a season-high 17 points and seven rebounds. Egor Koulechov had 14 points and seven rebounds and Marcus Evans had 12 points and five assists. Chad Lott scored 10 points and Connor Cashaw recorded his first career double-double, scoring 13 points and grabbing a career-high 10 rebounds.
"A lot of guys contributed tonight," said Rice head coach Mike Rhoades. "We shot the ball really well. I was really proud of how we passed the ball. To have 24 assists on 38 baskets; that's how we need to play all of the time."
Rice led 52-39 to start the second half. Northwestern State (5-5) scored on its first possession, but the Owls scored seven straight points, taking a 59-41 lead and forcing a Demon timeout. NSU then went on a 9-2 run to cut the deficit to 11. Evans made a three and NSU answered with a jumper. Jackson hit a three and Letcher-Ellis made a layup.
After the teams traded points, Sabri Thompson hit a three and Hall made one-of-two free throws. But, Rice scored eight of the next nine points to its largest lead of the game, 79-59, with 10:36 to play.
However, Northwestern State would not go away. After four straight points, the teams traded baskets. NSU then went on an 8-2 run to cut the lead to 85-73 with 4:14 to play. A Zeek Woodley free throw was sandwich between two layups by Koulechov. The Demons then went on an 11-3 run to pull within 92-85 with 1:17 remaining.
Cashaw converted a three-point play to push the lead back to 10 points. Tra'von Joseph made a jumper and Adams connected on one-of-two free throws. Josh Boyd made a pair from the line and after Jackson went one-of-two from the charity stripe, Hall's jumper cut the lead to 97-91 with 19 seconds to play. However, after NSU fouls, Cashaw and Koulechov put the game away.
Rhoades added, "We have to do a better job when we get leads. We got it out to a 20-point lead, but they got it down to seven. We have to learn. It's a win and we'll take it. We'll enjoy it. But we have to learn from it."
Rice got out to a fast start, scoring the first 11 points of the game. The Demons scored five straight to cut the lead to six, but Jackson followed with a three. After NSU scored, Jackson hit two straight baskets. The teams then traded baskets, as Rice took a 20-9 lead 6:21 into the game.
Northwestern State scored four straight points, but Rice pushed the lead to 25-13 with five straight points. Devonte Hall hit a pair of free throws before the teams traded baskets for the next 2:49.
A three-pointer from Cashaw and a layup from Evans gave Rice its largest lead of the half, 39-25, with 5:51 to play. However, the Demons went on a 10-0 run over the next 1:41 to cut the lead to six. But, Ako Adams drilled a three to send Rice on an 8-0.
The teams traded baskets. NSU then hit two straight to pull NSU to within 10. But, Letcher-Ellis hit a three to send Rice into halftime with a 52-39 lead.
Rice shot 59.4% (38-of-64) from the field and 57.1% (12-of-21) from three. Northwestern State connected on 30-of-62 (48.4%) from the floor and 6-of-16 (37.5%). The Owls outrebounded NSU, 36-to-32 and recorded a season-high 24 assists.
Rice closes its non-conference schedule this Wednesday, Dec. 21, when it hosts crosstown foe St. Thomas. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT and will be live-streamed at CUSA.tv.