Three Sentence Summary: Rice’s two-game win streak came to an end with a 58-45 loss to conference frontrunner Louisiana Tech on Saturday at Tudor Fieldhouse in Houston. A 9-2 run by the Bulldogs to open the second half allowed Tech to seize control of the game. The Owls only made five second-half field goals in 17 attempts.
Team Records: Rice is 6-12, 3-4 in Conference USA. Louisiana Tech is 15-5, 6-1 in C-USA.
The Significance: This was not a game that Rice was supposed to win, so the fact they hung in for most of it was encouraging. So was the fact they held La Tech to its lowest point total of the season. The previous low was 65. Those takeaways showed keep confidence high going into the rivalry game against Houston.
Defining Moment: After falling behind by double digits early in the second half, Rice cut La Tech’s lead to 39-34 on a lay-up by Seth Gearhart at the 11:42 mark. The Owls next points didn’t come until 6:40 was on the clock. The five-minute draught included three missed shots and two turnovers.
What Went Right: 1. Rice had 11 offensive rebounds, two more than La Tech. 2. The Owls only committed 15 fouls the whole game. 3. La Tech’s Raheem Appleby was held to 10 points (on 4 of 17 shooting), 7 points below his season average.
What Went Wrong: 1. After making a dozen 3-pointers in three earlier C-USA games, Rice only made 5 on Saturday while launching 19 of them. 2. La Tech outscored Rice 28-12 in the paint. 3. Rice had 0 fast break points.
Big Man on Campus: Seth Gearhart finished with 16 points, 4 rebounds and a steal. He did most of his damage from the line, going 9 of 11.
What did the Coach say: “It was a hard game to score in today,” said Rice coach Mike Rhoades. “It wasn’t lack of effort. I thought our guys did a great job of being composed and continuing to fight. We did not shoot the ball well and their athleticism had something to do with that. We didn’t make enough shots and we didn’t come out well in the second half. That really hurt us. We needed to start the second half with energy – that’s on me and I need to find a way to fix that. It really hurt us tonight.”
What did the other coach say: “Rice is not only good offensively, but they are very good defensively,“ said Louisiana Tech coach Michael White. “They are a much improved team, not only from last year, but over the course of the last couple of months. They were not only good in their half-court zone and man, but they were also really good early with full-court pressure. They had us rattled early in the game and we had to calm down and settle in a little bit.”
Read more about it: La. Tech stifles Rice in victory
The Series stands at: Louisiana Tech 10, Rice 5
Next Rice game: Non-conference game at Houston, 7 p.m. Wednesday, ESPN 3