Rice basketball was unable to keep pace with a torrid Pepperdine shooting barrage, falling to the Waves on the road to begin their 2022-2023 season.
Pepperdine visited Houston to open last season, with the Owls winning in commanding fashion. On Monday, the two squads reversed roles. Rice flew to California, put up an early fight, but eventually fell in lopsided fashion to the home squad.
Although the game ended with a one-sided result, it didn’t start out that way, The Waves got the first bucket, a layup to open the scoring before the Owls battled back. There were brief runs through the remainder of the first half, but neither side ever led by more than six points until the final minutes before the break when Pepperdine hit a triple at the buzzer to go up eight.
At that point, there weren’t any signs of panic. Despite the deficit, Rice had seemingly kept pace on both ends of the court with Pepperdine through the first 20 minutes. The Owls’ were aggressive, showcased by quick production from freshman Mekhi Mason who had clearly been given the green light to attack the rim. His first bucket gave Rice a 4-2 lead in the first 90 seconds of play.
Unfortunately for the Owls, that late three to close the first half proved to be a harbinger of things to come. Pepperdine connected on its first four threes in the second half, finishing the game 15-of-30 from long range and a staggering 62.9 percent from the floor, rendering the Owls’ most earnest comeback attempts moot. They simply could not slow down the Waves’ attack.
“Their good shooters didn’t miss shots. Sometimes it’s a make-or-miss game,” Rice basketball head coach Scott Pera said in the aftermath. And as if that wasn’t direct enough, Pera made sure to circle back and own the Owls’ own shortcomings too. “Our defense was obviously less than stellar, horrendous at times.”
The Owls’ own shooting woes only exacerbated the issue. Rice shot just 38.1 percent from the field, struggling to get into a rhythm. Rice defended extremely well against Pepperdine in their season opener last season. That wasn’t the case on Monday resulting in a crushing opening game loss.
“This is something we can’t forget,” Pera said. “This is something that cannot happen. This is [not a] kind of loss this program should be taking.”
Rice will only have a few days to look at the film and move forward, with their home opener coming later this week.
Player Spotlight | Quincy Olivari
Olivari was missed last season, so seeing him back on the court was an encouraging sign in itself. He led Rice in scoring with 15 points, converting 4-of-11 opportunities from three. Olivari had three rebounds and added six assists, tying a career-high.
Final Box | Pepperdine 106 – Rice 67
— The Roost (@AtTheRoost) November 8, 2022
Up Next | Full Schedule
Rice basketball returns home for their first game at Tudor Fieldhouse later this week where they’ll host St. Thomas in a double-header of Owls’ hoops contests. The women open their season later that evening, also at Tudor. Both games will be available to watch on CUSAtv.
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