BEAUMONT, Texas – It took more than the allotted 40 minutes to determine the outcome as Rice University men’s basketball fell to Lamar, 79-72, in overtime on Monday night at the Montagne Center.
The Owls tied the game with two minutes to play in regulation and the teams remained knotted at 64-64 for the duration of regulation as each team’s final attempts to take a late lead missed the mark.
In the extra frame, Lamar struck first with a pair of free throws before Marcus Jackson put Rice ahead with his fifth three-pointer of the night. The Cardinals responded with a three-point play. Rice tied the game for the ninth time on a pair of Bishop Mency free throws less than a minute later, but Lamar scored the next six points to put Rice in too deep of a hole with 1:41 remaining and three players on the bench after fouling out. Lamar knocked down four of its final six free throws to seal its third-straight win.
Head coach Mike Rhoades said, “We gave the ball to the other team too much and we didn’t execute down the stretch. In the final six minutes of a game, we tell the team we need to be solid on defense, need to take care of the ball and we need to make free throws. We gave up some second shots on defense and we threw the ball to the other team three or four times. You can’t beat yourself and win close games. I love coaching close games and we’ve got to keep at it and keep getting better. Close isn’t good enough and we’ve got to get over that and learn to win. We’re going to do that. It’s going to take a lot of hard work and sacrifice, but we’re going to get there.”
Jackson tied for the team lead with 19 points on the night, including 5-of-9 three-pointers and a 6-of-12 mark from the field. The sophomore added six rebounds, two assists and a steal in 38 minutes of action.
Mency notched a season-high 17 points in the game, including three treys of his own. The rookie hauled down six boards with an assist and shot 5-of-12 from the field in a team-leading 41 minutes of action.
Max Guercy also scored 19 points in the game to tie for the team lead and establish a new season scoring high. The junior guard passed out six assists and swiped four steals with three rebounds. He shot 5-of-10 from the field, 2-of-4 from long range and 7-of-8 at the foul line.
Seth Gearhart made a bid for his second-straight double-double with 15 points and eight rebounds. The senior paced the squad to an early 10-point lead as he scored 13 points in the opening frame. The Owls finished the first half with a slim 33-32 advantage.
Rice forced a season-high 21 turnovers on the night, including eight steals, which the team turned into 16 points on the other end. After falling behind on the glass early on, Rice rallied to within a 34-33 margin in rebounds. The Owls turned nine offensive rebounds into 10 second-chance points.
For the game, Rice shot 43.5 percent from the field and 11-of-28 from downtown, tying a season high for three-pointers made. The Owls also made 17-of-23 free throws. Lamar had a sizeable advantage at the foul line as the home team made 27-of-40 attempts. LU shot 45.7 percent from the floor and 10-of-20 from beyond the arc.
Kevin Booze led the Cardinals with 17 points off the bench.
Following a week off for the holidays, the Owls play their final game before the start of Conference USA action on Dec. 29 at No. 9 Texas. Tipoff is set for noon CT and the game will be televised on Longhorn Network.