By: Tim Andrzejewski (firstname.lastname@example.org)
HOUSTON - Rice opened the second half on an 18-6 run on its way to an 83-63 win over crosstown foe St. Thomas Wednesday night at Tudor Fieldhouse.
With the win, Rice improves to 10-3 on the year. It is the most regular season non-conference wins since 1991-92.
Egor Koulechov had a game-high 20 points and six rebounds. Marcus Jackson scored 12 points and Tim Harrison had a season-high 11 points. Marcus Evans had seven points and eight assists and Connor Cashaw added a career-high 13 rebounds.
"That was a sloppy game," said Rice head coach Mike Rhoades. "It's that time of the year. But, we got the win. I'm glad our guys kept their head in it. Now it's time to move on and get ready for conference play."
Rice scored the first six points of the game, prompting a St. Thomas timeout two minutes in. However, the Owls missed their next eight shots while turning the ball over six times, as UST went on a 9-0 run over the next 5:13. But Rice answered with an 11-2 run of its own over the next 2:52 to take a 17-11 lead. After the teams traded baskets, Nathan Thormaehlen got a dunk off a Marquez Letcher-Ellis turnover to cut the lead to four. But Harrison scored four points in a 7-0 run to push the lead to 26-15 with 6:37 to play.
The Celts then used a 7-2 run to cut the lead to six. But, the Owls again answered with another 7-0 run. The teams then traded baskets over the next 2:54. However, four straight points by Koulechov followed by a three-pointer from Jackson sent Rice into halftime with a 50-33 lead.
The teams opened the second half trading baskets. Rice then went on a 16-4 run to take a 68-39 lead. After a three by Kennard Robinson, the teams traded free throws. Andrew Drone and Evans then went one-of-two from the line and Robert Martin gave the Owls their largest lead of the game, 73-43, with nine minutes to play. St. Thomas would get no closer than 18 points the rest of the way
Rice connected on 44.4% (28-of-63) from the field and 33.3% (9-of-27) from three. The Celts were just 24-of-64 (37.5%) from the floor and 5-of-28 (17.9%) from beyond the arc. The Owls also outrebounded UST, 48-to-35.
Rice will take a break for the holidays before opening the Conference USA season on Saturday, Dec. 31, at Old Dominion. Tip-off is scheduled for 12 p.m. CT and will be live-streamed at CUSA.tv.