Rice basketball dropped both games to Louisiana Tech this weekend, ending the regular season with a 6-10 record in Conference USA play.
It was a tough two-game stint for Rice basketball, who were swept by Louisiana Tech on the road this weekend. Rice has lost four in a row after sweeping Southern Miss at home to start the month.
On Friday night, the Owls came out cold. Louisiana Tech was red hot. Rice shot 29.0 percent from the field in the first half and 35.3 percent from the field in the second. Louisiana Tech shot 63.6 percent from the field in the first half, doubling the Owls efficiency — and their scoring.
Down 28 points entering the break, the hole proved too big to overcome. Rice shot marginally better down the stretch, but outside of Cameron Sheffield (17 points on 5-of-8 shooting) nobody had a particularly strong outing.
Louisiana Tech fell somewhat back to earth on Saturday, but Rice was unable to string together the consistency necessary to weather the Bulldogs’ runs. Rice led 21-15 in the first half, but watched that lead dissipate before the halftime buzzer. Not even Riley Abercombie’s strong day from deep (15 points on 5-for-8 from three) was enough to reinvigorate the Rice offense.
Player Spotlight | Max Fiedler
Fiedler’s importance to this team was demonstrated both on and off the court this weekend. Rice had no rhythm with him absent on Friday. On Saturday, Fiedler delivered a double-double, his tenth of the season. He overcame foul trouble and the challenges of playing with a facemask to give the Owls a chance.
Stat Corner | Ice cold
Sometimes it’s not your night. That was abundantly clear on Friday when the Owls seemingly couldn’t buy a bucket. 11 Owls attempted a field goal in the game. Just three — Sheffield, Quincy Olivari and Travis Evee — made more than one shot. Missing Max Fiedler, who left the game after getting hit in the face, compounded the shooting woes.
But Fiedler was on the court Saturday when the Owls shooting hit another rut. Rice had a lead over Louisiana Tech midway through the first half. Then the Bulldogs went on a 25-6 run over the final eight minutes. It didn’t matter which combination of players Rice had on the court, the shots weren’t falling.
Rice cut the deficit to four points in the second half. Louisiana Tech responded with a 16-2 run.
Even when considering the volume of shots Rice attempts from three, the Owls still average roughly a 45 percent clip from the floor this season. The Owls finished below 35 percent in both games over the weekend. That’s not going to cut it in the conference tournament.
Unlike the women’s team, which has two more games left against North Texas, the men are scheduled to be off this coming weekend. Barring a last-minute game added to the slate, the Owls’ next action will come in Frisco at the conference tournament in March.