Rice Basketball came up short on a furious comeback attempt against Western Kentucky, falling to 0-2 in Conference USA play.
The first five minutes of play at E.A. Diddle Arena couldn’t have gone much worse. Rice basketball missed five shots, turned the ball over four times and fell behind 9-0. Western Kentucky would extend the lead to 13 on a Camron Justice three shortly after. The home crowd was roaring and the Owls seemed lost.
Then the rally began. The double-digit deficit shrunk to six points at halftime and didn’t last much longer. Rice scored nine of the first 12 points after the break to tie the game at 32. The shots that weren’t falling in the first half started to drop and a suddenly reinvigorated defense gave WKU fits. They had to settle for a lot of outside shots in the second half, where their rhythm was noticeably off.
The second half was a game of runs. WKU would take a five or six point lead. Rice would tie it, but they never got past the equalizing point. Rice took six shots that could have given them the lead in the second half but missed all six. In the end, a cold snap did them in. The Owls finished 1-of-9 from the field, dropping the game by a final score of 68-61.
Rice made impeccable defensive adjustments in the second half. Weathering the storm and fighting back has been a frequent occurrence for this team. If they’re ever able to strike first, they’ve shown the ability to push the envelope. It’s just too often after they’ve fallen behind that they get the opportunity to make that push.
FINAL | WKU 68 – Rice 61
— The Roost (@AtTheRoost) January 4, 2020
Player of the game – Trey Murphy
Five Owls attempted multiple three-pointers on Saturday. Murphy was the only one to knock down more than one. He was 4-for-8 while the rest of the team shot a dismal 4-for-21. He rounded out the strong shooting night with seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block. His game continues to develop, but he’s already much more than a complimentary outside shooter.
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