Rice basketball battled with Western Kentucky in a double overtime thriller before running out of gas. The Owls fell 92-85.
There was a full gym on Thursday night at Tudor Fieldhouse for a nationally televised game between visiting Western Kentucky and the Rice Owls. The home team got off to a slow start, falling behind 9-0 before they settled down and focused in on what would become a dogfight from start to finish.
Down early, Rice didn’t get flustered. Instead, they rallied behind one of the hottest shooting streaks of Ako Adams‘ career. The junior point guard began the game 5-for-5 from long range. Every time it looked like WKU might be able to extend the lead, Adams willed his team back into the fight.
Two points were all that separated Rice and WKU at half. Then the Owls turned it on. By way of a 13-0 run midway through the second half Rice flipped the 2-point deficit into a 9-point advantage. They’d extend the lead to as many as 13, but WKU wasn’t done. The Tops had a rally of their own, taking advantage of a five-minute scoring drought from Rice to claw back and take the lead.
Chris Mullins knocked down a foul shot to force overtime. Then Adams drained his seventh three of the contest to send the game to a second extra period. When it came time to finish, they didn’t have the energy to close. Rice fell in two overtimes, 92-85.
“We just not there yet,” admitted Pera after the game. “We all want to win. We all want to take this program up a notch. It’s hard… Nobody feels sorry for us. We gotta do better and the only way you do better is to look in the mirror, take responsibility, hold your teammates and staff accountable and get to work tomorrow. And that’s what we’ll do.”
Player of the game – Ako Adams
Entering Thursday night the record for most three-point baskets made in a single game was eight set by Bobby Crawford against Tulsa in 1997. After a hot start, Adams finished 2-of-9 from deep and 7-of-14 overall, just missing out on a piece of Rice history. Still, seven threes and another layup paved the way for a season-best 23 points.
Adams took little joy in his strong start given the final result. “I definitely gotta do a better job as a better point guard and a better leader,” he declared. “I’m tired of being this close. We just gotta break through.” The Owls had lost their previous three games by five combined points prior to this overtime defeat.
Rice will stick around town for a Saturday tilt with Marshall this Saturday. The Herd are the last home opponent on the finalized portion of the Owls’ schedule before pod play begins in the latter half of February.
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