Rice basketball entered the weekend with a two-game winning streak, but Western Kentucky cooled the Owls down quickly with a sweep of their own.
It’s been a hectic few weeks for Rice basketball, which wrapped up a tough weekend on the road on Saturday with a second loss to Western Kentucky. It’s now been more than a month since Rice was able to trot out their five starters on the court at the same time. Dealing with injuries and COVID aren’t a unique challenge faced solely by the Owls, but the churn in the rotation hasn’t done them any favors.
Western Kentucky came out of the blocks red hot on Friday night, quickly pulling out to an 18-8 lead in less than five minutes. Rice stayed composed and battled back, but never got the game back within one score, despite relatively productive shooting nights from Travis Evee, Quincy Olivari and Riley Abercrombie.
The second game felt eerily similar to the first. Rice had their moments and made some big shots. They just always seemed to be a possession or two away from breaking through. A 15 point halftime deficit proved too much to overcome, especially when compounded by sub 40 percent shooting in the second half.
Player Spotlight | Ege Havsa
The turnover on the roster amid injuries and COVID-19 limitations has opened the door for role players to step into more prominent positions. Ege Havsa had his number called this weekend and he responded well. On Friday he played 23 minutes, the most action he’s seen in nearly a month. On Saturday he had career-high seven rebounds and a season-best 12 points.
Turnovers have been Havsa sore spot, but in short spurts, he’s proven to be an effective piece for head coach Scott Pera. Having players like him at the ready when they’re needed in the coming weeks will be huge for the Owls.
Stat Corner | Cooled off
This weekend saw the only two-game conference set in which Rice did not have any individual player score 20 points in a game. Travis Evee (19) Quincy Olivari (18) got close on Friday. No one topped 15 points on Saturday.
Rice basketball has more depth this year than they’ve had in recent memory. Even still, the quantity of shooters still isn’t quite where they’d want it to be. It’s a rare night for someone to do what Havsa did on Saturday and score double-digits off the bench. If the Owls’ starting guards aren’t converting at high enough of a clip, Rice hasn’t shown they can consistently find scoring volume elsewhere.
The final scheduled home series of the season looms next weekend for Rice basketball. They’ll return to Tudor Fieldhouse to take on Marshall. The Thundering Herd entered the weekend in the middle of the pack in the East.
- Rice Baseball 2021: Owls swept by Louisiana in first road series
- Rice Women’s Basketball: Owls shoot circles around Louisiana Tech
- Rice Basketball: Owls ice cold in road sweep by Louisiana Tech
- Rice Basketball Preview: Owls vs Louisiana Tech