Leading with five seconds on the clock, Rice Basketball watched their CBI Tournament stint come to an end on a buzzer-beating shot by Ohio.
Rice basketball showed up roughly 10 minutes late for the 6:30 p.m. tipoff of the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) Tournament. The Owls were on the court at the same time as their opponent, the Ohio Bobcats, but it took the Owls a while to get going and the Bobcats were right on time.
Ohio scored the first three baskets of the game and burst out to a 13-point lead before the game clock hit 10:00 in the first half. Rice was turning the ball over, they were shooting 20 percent from the field. Nothing was going right as they veered dangerously close to hitting the beach early.
Head coach Scott Pera saw it the same way. When asked what happened at that pivotal moment in the game, Pera shot straight: “The Rice basketball team showed up after 17-4 because I don’t know what was going on to start it,” he said. “We took a deep breath. We recovered and made it a game the rest of the way.”
Trailing by 13, Rice roared back, outscoring Ohio 18-5 over the next six minutes and change to tie the game back up at 24-24. Rather than call it a season, Rice responded with an emphatic “Not Done Yet.” The Owls would go into halftime trailing by one, very much so back in the game.
The second half was much closer. Although Ohio led for the vast majority of the remainder of the contest, their advantage seemed to hang near six or seven points for much of the half. Their latest lead of the half, a 10-point margin that pushed the Owls into do-or-die mode, came with 5:24 to play. Once more, Rice fought back.
Carl Pierre was electric when in mattered most. He scored nine points in the final four minutes include the jumper with five seconds on the clock that looked like it might send Rice basketball through to the second round.
But it wasn’t to be. For as furious as the Owls’ rally had been, things ended one defensive stand shy of victory. Ohio grabbed the ball and dashed down the court, hitting a layup at the buzzer to sink the Owls’ further postseason dreams.
Player Spotlight | Travis Evee
As beat up and under-manned as Rice basketball was down the stretch, they could ill afford to get negligible production from their core players. That’s part of what made Trave Evee’s cold snap over the Owls’ last three games so devasting. He averaged 6.0 points per game in those three contests, shooting 14 percent from the field.
So when Rice fell behind early, it was now or never for Evee. He hit his first three of the game with 5:37 to play in the first half, then spurred an 8-0 Rice run with a fastbreak layup shortly after. He would finish with 12 points, second-most on the team, also adding four rebounds, four assists and a setal.
Stat Corner | 94 percent
Green Light U, as Rice basketball dubbed themselves early this season, was founded on the Owls’ ability to shoot, and to shoot well. Entering the postseason, Rice basketball had won 15 of 16 games when Rice finished with a better field goal percentage than their opponents. The opposite was also true — Rice had lost 15 of 16 games in which their opponents had out-shot them.
So when Carl Pierre hit a jumper with five seconds to play and Rice was outshooting Ohio 45.9 percent to 39.1 percent, it seemed like Rice was going to pull out the win just as they’d 94 percent of the time throughout the season.
Unfortunately for him and the Owls, tonight was a night where the conventional numbers weren’t hitting as they used to. Rice shot a season-low five free throws to counteract their shooting edge.
Final Box | Ohio 65 – Rice 64
FINAL | Ohio 65 – Rice 64 pic.twitter.com/XY7kYB6oa6
— The Roost (@AtTheRoost) March 20, 2022
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