NORFOLK, Va. - Rice shot just 37.1% from the field, as the Owls dropped their conference opener to Old Dominion, Saturday afternoon at the Ted Constant Convocation Center.
"That was a typical league game," said Rice head coach Mike Rhoades. "It's always tough to play at Old Dominion. We had our chances but we just shot ourselves in the foot way too many times in the second half. We had a lead, but we gave it back quick. We couldn't put possessions together today and it really hurt us."
ODU scored the first six points of the game as Rice missed its first five shots. Koulechov got Rice on the board with a jumper. Jackson then stepped in front of an Ahmad Caver pass and drove in four the layup, getting fouled in the process and converting the three-point play.
The Monarchs answered with two straight baskets. Evans then hit two straight three-pointers as time was winding down on the shot clock. Denzell Taylor then hit a jumper but Marquez Letcher-Ellis connected on a pair of free throws to pull Rice within 14-13 with 10:12 to play in the half.
Old Dominion then scored eight of the next 11 points over the next 4:34 to take a 24-18 lead. Koulechov drained a three and Chad Lott made a layup to get Rice within 24-23. The teams then traded baskets over the next 4:37.
With ODU leading 30-27, Letcher-Ellis drove in for a layup. With 13 seconds to play, Jackson missed a layup, but Andrew Drone was there for the putback dunk to give Rice its first lead of the game and send the Owls into halftime with a 31-30 lead.
Connor Cashaw opened the second half with a three. B.J. Stith made a three and Taylor made one-of-two from the free throw line to tie the game at 34. Rice then got two straight layups from Austin Meyer and a jumper from Evans to take its largest lead of the game, 40-34, 4:14 into the second half. H owever, ODU answered with six straight points of its own to tie the game at 40.
After the teams traded a pair of baskets, Koulechov connected on a three-point play to give Rice a 47-44 lead with 9:21 remaining. However, the Monarchs went on a 15-6 run over the next 4:48 to go ahead, 59-53. A Cashaw layup cut the lead to four, but that's as close as Rice would get.
Rice was just 23-of-62 from the field, including 5-of-21 (23.8%) from three. Old Dominion connected on 51.0% (26-of-51) from the floor and 33.3% (3-of-9) from three. The Owls were also just 5-of-11 from the free throw line.
Rice closes its road trip this Monday, Jan. 2, when it travels to Charlotte, N.C. to face Charlotte. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT and will be live-streamed at WatchESPN.com.