Rice Basketball ran out of three-pointers in the final moments, falling to UTEP on the road despite a sizable second-half lead.
Max Fiedler and Chris Mullins got Rice basketball off to as good of a start as could have been asked for in their Thursday night road tilt with the UTEP Miners. The senior duo put up the first five points of the game, staking the visiting Owls to an early 5-0 lead. It wouldn’t last.
No sooner had the Owls exhaled from the quick run than UTEP had the lead, and then some. The Miners reeled off a 13-0 run of their own, quickly turning what had been an auspicious start for Rice into a full-scale battle. UTEP’s lead would grow to as many as 12 points before Rice started to chip away in earnest. Mullins laid one in to start a run, which would balloon to a 13-2 Rice streak resulting in a halftime tie.
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Rice leveled the game with a smattering of offensive sets and firm defense. In the second half, their spark came from deep. Carl Pierre seemingly couldn’t miss from long range, pulling Rice along with him as he rained down three after three. He helped the Owls open up an 11-point lead which might have been safe had it not been for a furious assault in the paint from the Miners.
UTEP would pull things back to even, setting up a thrilling final few minutes. Pierre would put Rice in front with a pair of free throws with 58 seconds to play. UTEP crept back in front with three free throw makes in their next two possessions, sending the ball back to Rice for what could have been the game-tying shot, but it would not fall.
Mullins and Pierre each had a chance at the equalizing three, as would Fiedler from half court, but none of them could put it in. On a night of so many threes, Rice fell one three short.
Player Spotlight | Carl Pierre
On paper, the addition of Pierre from the Transfer Portal seemed like a nice win for the Owls. At a minimum, the veteran three-point shooter would give Rice another weapon on the outside. The best-case scenario? Rice basketball might be living it right now.
Pierre set the program record for three-pointers in a season with his outburst against UTEP. He and Travis Evee collectively became the Rice duo with the most total triples between them in a single campaign. Rice was already an offensive centered around good three-point shooting when Pierre arrived. He’s taken it to another level.
Here is the record setting triple! pic.twitter.com/1eQOC5qzwC
— Rice Men’s Basketball (@RiceMBB) March 4, 2022
Stat Corner | Three-falling
On his way to his record-setting performance, Pierre knocked down six threes. It was the fourth time this season he’s made that many triples in a game. He’s made at least one three-pointer in all but two games this season. His shooting stroke has been crucial to the Owls’ offensive rhythm.
Final Box | UTEP 70 – Rice 67
— The Roost (@AtTheRoost) March 4, 2022
Up Next | Full Schedule
Rice basketball has one final road tilt in the regular season. They finish the regular season on Saturday, Mar. 5 at 2:00 p.m. in San Antonio against UTSA. From there, it’s onto the Conference USA Tournament, the opening rounds of which tip-off on Mar. 8.