Rice basketball came out flat and was unable to rally, falling on the road to Charlotte and likely playing themselves out of a first round bye in the C-USA Tournament.
On a day when Rice basketball needed to be at their best, the Owls never really seemed to find their footing. Once again the troubles began with a slow start. Rice shot 28.6 percent from the field in the first half and made two threes (on 14 attempts). Despite the offensive struggles, Rice was able to hang around for a while, keeping the margin with a couple of possessions for most of the first half. Charlotte would close the half on a 7-3 run to go up by 11, their largest lead of the game at that point.
The second half was all 49ers. Following a layup from Travis Evee and two more Rice free throws, Charlotte opened the game up with a 9-0 run that gave them an 18-point lead. The margin would fluctuate from that point onward, but Charlotte was able to deny the final Rice push with a string of threes in the final minutes, finishing off a 5-for-9 mark from deep in the second half and preventing any chance of a late Rice rally.
Final Box | Charlotte 70 – Rice 54
— The Roost (@AtTheRoost) February 25, 2023
Key takeaway | Coming in cold
Coaches always talk about getting their teams to play their best basketball in March. The calendar still technically reads February, but Rice basketball is decidedly not bringing their A-game into the most important month of the season. With two games to go, Rice has all but played itself out of a first-round bye in the Conference USA Tournament. Charlotte now holds a one-game lead over Rice with two games to play.
Rice basketball has lost six of its last eight games. If they’re going to make a run in the conference tournament, they’ll have to win a few in a row. Rice has shown an ability to reel off a nice winning streak, but the Owls haven’t won back-to-back games since January. It’s going to be March when they take the court for the next time. It’s not too late to get hot, but the Owls are certainly on the verge of running out of time.
Up Next: at Charlotte – Saturday, Feb. 25 at 3:00 p.m.
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