Rice basketball couldn’t hit the shots they needed to down the stretch, dropping a winnable home tilt against Charlotte and moving to 4-3 in C-USA play.
There are days when the ball bounces your way and there are days it rims out. On Saturday against Charlotte, that clang off the iron went against Rice Basketball, who fell at home in a back-and-forth game the Owls would probably like to have back.
Charlotte struck first, jumping out to a 4-0 lead, their largest advantage in a game they’d win by three, matching by an 8-4 advantage minutes later. Rice quickly countered, clambering out to a 15-11 lead at the midpoint of the first half, scoring six straight points. Neither team would go on a run longer than that at any point in the contest.
Rice was uninspiring from three, connecting on just 7-of-22 from beyond the arc. The Owls shot a modest 42 percent from the field and held their own on the boards. Charlotte’s advantage came in their scoring. The 49ers shot 53.3 percent in the game and 59.1 percent in the second half. That accuracy proved to be the difference, down to the final shot.
Carl Pierre, who had been lights-out from deep in his previous two outings, made three of his eight triples in the game, missing two threes in the final six seconds, either of which would have likely pushed the game into overtime. In a relatively evenly matched game, it served as a synopsis of the 40-minute slugfest: Charlotte made the plays when it counted. Rice did not.
Player Spotlight | Mylyjael Poteat
On a night when Rice wasn’t quite on the mark from long range, Mylyjael Poteat played a huge role in the paint. The up-and-coming center led all scorers with 15 points, knocking going 6-of-9 from the field and 3-0f-4 from the free throw line. Head coach Scott Pera has been extremely complementary of his growth all season, noting his growth from last season to this one.
“He’s played a lot more basketball. He’s getting used to the speed,” Pera said of Poteat. “We knew he was a really good player when we recruited him. Now he’s starting to really take advantage of his minutes.
Stat Corner | When it counts
It wasn’t a great afternoon shooting the basketball for Rice, but they shot well enough to have the chance to win the game late. It’s what happened in the final two minutes that made the difference and should serve as a teaching tool for a team that aspires to make some noise in the conference tournament.
With 1:52 on the clock, Poteat hit a layup to tie the game at 62. From that point onward, Rice did not hit another shot outside the paint. Their only points following Poteat’s layup was a dunk from Poteat with 18 seconds remaining. Travis Evee missed a layup. Chris Mullins was called for a charge and turned it over. Pierre missed from deep, twice. The great teams find a way to get at least one of those shots to go in. They had some good lucks. Things just didn’t work out in the last 90 seconds.
Final Box | Char 67 – Rice 64
— The Roost (@AtTheRoost) January 23, 2022
Up Next | Full Schedule
Rice basketball went 1-1 on the homestand and will now return to the road next week. On Thursday they’ll pay a visit to Louisiana Tech before playing at Southern Miss on Saturday.
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