In a game that never felt close, Rice basketball saw its Conference USA Tournament run come to a close in a blowout loss to favorite North Texas.
“Playing with house money” is the phrase Rice basketball head coach Scott Pera used when previewing Thursday night’s game against North Texas when he met with his team following the Owls’ opening win of the Conference USA Tournament over Charlotte. He knew the odds were stacked against his team against the league’s No. 1 squad. He was right.
North Texas hit Rice hard from the jump, converting their first nine two-point shots. Whether it was Max Fiedler or Myljael Poteat inside, Rice had no answer in the paint. At the same time, Rice struggled to get into any sort of offensive rhythm against Conference USA’s best defensive squad.
“We didn’t bring our A-game and that’s what happens,” Pera said, summing up a rough two hours of basketball in one quaint refrain.
Trailing 14-9 in the first half, the Owls sputter became a slump. A 14-0 North Texas run spanned part of a 10 minute, 34-second streak in which Rice didn’t hit a single field goal. They missed all eight of their shots during that time. By the time Max Fiedler finally got the Owls a bucket, the North Texas lead had ballooned to 20 points. Rice would go into halftime down by 18.
Rice wouldn’t find any relief after the break. Beat up and, as Pera put it without “a ton of juice”, things spiraled. North Texas’ first three field goals of the second half were three-pointers, giving them six triples to the Owls’ singular made three.
With the edge on the boards, in the paint and from distance, there wasn’t much Rice was able to do to fight back. North Texas would sprint through the half, closing out their third win of the season over Rice in convincing fashion.
Player Spotlight | Mylyjael Poteat
Poteat subbed in quickly once it became clear North Texas would have its way on the interior of both sides of the court. He struggled at times against the Mean Green, too, but finished with a team-high 10 points and four rebounds, missing time with an apparent injury suffered on his way to the basket. On a night filled with misses, Poteat made 4-of-5 and remains a bright spot for the future.
Stat Corner | Two
There were a myriad of stats that went against the Owls in a game that got away from them rather quickly. Perhaps the most fitting was the Owls’ hallmark measure: three-point shots. Rice made just two three-point shots, a season-low. They’d been held to three or fewer triples by just one other opponent this season, fittingly, North Texas who had held them to three apiece in each of their previous meetings.
Final Box | North Texas 58 – Rice 50
— The Roost (@AtTheRoost) March 11, 2022
Up Next |
The Conference USA Tournament loss marks the end of all currently scheduled games for Rice basketball. As things currently stand, they’ll be in the mix for postseason action. Details of if the Owls make any field and who/when they’ll play next will be made available in the coming days.
Pera said he believes there might still be a postseason spot for this team. “Any time we can late in March in this program, that’s the goal. That’s what we’re striving to do,” he said of any potential postseason bid. “We’ll be exciting as heck to get that opportunity.”