After making a big shot of their own, Rice basketball lost a heartbreaker on a buzzer-beating three point shot, falling to UTEP on the road.
Trey Murphy hit a three-point shot in the final second of the game and the Don Haskins Center let out a noticeable gasp. The Owls had led for the vast majority of the 39 minutes and 59 seconds, but UTEP had stormed back from a 17-point hole to retake the lead as the final seconds ticked off the clock.
Murphy’s shot gave Rice a 64-63 advantage — the game clock read 0.6 seconds. After consulting the monitor the officials put 1.5 seconds on the clock and handed the ball back for UTEP. No problem, Quentin Millora-Brown deflected the in bounds pass and the buzzer rang.
Not so fast. 0.5 seconds was put back on the clock this time. Not enough to do much, but apparently just enough time for Jordan Lathon to knock down a shot, sending UTEP over Rice at the buzzer, 65-64.
The loss is tough to swallow for Rice, who fall to 2-3 in conference play after winning two straight games to start out the New Year. Ako Adams missed a good portion of the game with an injury. Having him on the court down the stretch would have been huge. Instead, UTEP picks up their first conference win of the season.
Player of the game – Robert Martin
Rice has used three different starting lineups this season; none have included freshman forward Robert Martin. That hasn’t stopped Martin from becoming a tremendous asset for the Owls off the bench. He picked up his second double-double of the season against UTEP, snagging 12 boards and scoring a team-high 14 points. He also added a steal and an assist.
Up next – At North Texas
The lone conference game Rice played before the New Year came on Dec. 29 against North Texas. The 12-1 Mean Green had compiled the best non-conference record among CUSA squads. They were able to take down the Owls 103-87, but the game was closer than the final score indicates. Rice held an 11-point lead midway through the first half before a cold shooting streak opened the doors for North Texas to pull away.