Rice basketball fell behind big early and clawed back to take the lead before running out of gas on the road against Louisiana Tech.
After going back and forth in their last meeting, Thursday’s matchup between Rice basketball and Louisiana Tech had the makings of another tight-nit contest. Another overtime-forcing buzzer-beater seemed impossible when the Owls fell behind by 24 points, unable to answer a barrage of first-half three-pointers from the Bulldogs.
Unfortunately, the Owls are no strangers to slow starts. They fell behind big early against UAB in their last outing a few days prior but were unable to battle back. On Thursday, though, Rice was able to find that extra gear.
Rice went on an 8-0 run to close the first half down 16 rather than 24. They kept that momentum rolling through intermission into the second half, outscoring Louisiana Tech 27-10 to start the frame, eradicating their deficit and taking a one-point lead.
The two sides would trade minor leads for a few more minutes, but it was Louisiana Tech that was able to dig deep and close things out. They finished the game on an 8-0 run with the final four points courtesy of a double-technical foul and subsequent ejection of Rice head coach Scott Pera as the clock was expiring. Rice did themselves no favors, failing to record a field goal of their own in the final five and a half minutes.
Final Box | LA Tech 80 – Rice 72
— The Roost (@AtTheRoost) February 3, 2023
Key takeaway | Bad one to lose
There’s never a good time to lose, but letting a late lead slip through the Owls’ clutches on Thursday was particularly inopportune. Rice entered the day third in the Conference USA standings with a half game lead on the group just behind them. That is gone now, and waiting on the Owls’ schedule in the coming days are games against FAU (No. 1 in C-USA) and North Texas (No. 2).
Rice did beat North Texas head-to-head a few games back, a monumental victory for Pera and the program. Winning back-to-back games against the Mean Green in a single season would make the first time the Owls have ever done that. It’s possible… but on paper much harder to do than holding onto a late lead against the .500-ish Lousiana Tech Bulldogs.
If Rice hopes to achieve a first-round bye in the conference tournament they’re either going to have to pull off a few more upsets or hold serve against the more winnable games on their schedule. Losing Thursday makes that road all the more challenging.
Up Next: vs North Texas – Saturday, Feb. 4 at 7:00 p.m.
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