Rice basketball survived a three-point barrage by Duquesne and defeated the Dukes, moving on to the second round of the CBI Tournament.
A 12-Seed in the 2023 CBI Tournament, Rice basketball certainly didn’t play like an underdog in Daytona Beach on Sunday afternoon. After trading minor leads in the early portions of the first half, Rice combined a furious scoring assault with a stingy defensive stretch to go on an 18-2 run and take a 13-point lead over the Duquesne Dukes.
Duquesne didn’t stay down long, thundering back via a three-point assault. As Rice found success inside (dominating Duqeuense in the paint 46-18), Duquense knocked down 14 threes but did not hit a three for a span of almost 10 minutes of play, hampering their attempts at a comeback.
As has often been the case for Rice basketball this season, Travis Evee and Quincy Olivari led the way. After failing to score any points in the first half, Olivari came alive in the second, scoring a game-high 19 second-half points and propelling Rice to a late lead.
When asked what sparked Olivari’s key second-half resurgence, head coach Scott Pera credited Olivari’s maturity and poise. “I’ve coached him for four years,” he said. “Sometimes you say something to him and get on him and sometimes you say nothing because he knows… and he knew. And he was ready to go in the second half.”
The battle raged on that way until the final minutes when Andrew Akuchie hit a layup and Mekhi Mason followed that score immediately with a steal and two free throws. That put Rice up by 11 with 1:25 to play. Duquesne hit a few more threes from that point but was unable to dig out of the hole as Rice was able to survive and advance to the next round.
“It’s just another barrier we knocked down,” Pera said of the win. “[It’s] another step for the program and I’m just really proud of the guys.”
Final Box | Rice 84 – Duquesne 78
FINAL | @RiceMBB 84 – Duquesne 78
The Owls are moving on! pic.twitter.com/8cGWpmqoE2
— The Roost (@AtTheRoost) March 19, 2023
Key takeaway | Making the good times count
Consistency hasn’t been the hallmark of Rice basketball this season, but the Owls have certainly been explosive. In this game, Rice went on runs of 11-0, 7-0, 6-0 and 5-0 (twice), leading by as many as 13 points toward the end of the first half. With those highs, though, came the lows. Rice allowed runs of 10-0 and 8-0, both in the first half.
Eliminating the lapses on defense isn’t going to happen at this point in the season. In the interim, that means the solution is making those offensive explosions count. When Rice is hot, making that extra shot to turn a 5-0 run into a 7-0 run will help buy them some cushion in the event they need it later in the game and history shows, that time will probably come.
Up Next: CBI Tournament vs 4-Seed Southern Utah (1:00 p.m. CT)
Subscribe on Patreon for exclusive Rice football recruiting updates, practice notes and more.