Rice basketball notched their first win of the 2022-2023 season on Thursday night, rolling past Saint Thomas in their home opener.
Rice basketball couldn’t get back on the court soon enough after their season-opening debacle against Pepperdine on Monday. The team that took the court that evening wasn’t hitting shots and had no answer for a team that was. The Owls looked much more resilient in their home opener against Saint Thomas, taking an early lead and holding it for the duration. In 40 minutes of action, Rice never trailed.
Travis Evee got the scoring started with a layup, then got the ball right back with a nice defensive play on the baseline on the ensuing defensive possession. It was one of three turnovers the Owls forced in the first three minutes of play, sparking an early 14-3 run.
Saint Thomas responded shortly afterward with a 9-0 run of their own, scoring from all three levels as they tested a Rice defense that was briefly without Max Fiedler, who left the game for a brief time but was able to return and started the second half.
Leading by 12 at the break, Rice held serve in the second half. The Owls gradually grew their lead, cycling in a host of players as they secured their first win of the 2022-2023 season on their home court. 11 different players saw action. Quincy Olivari led the team with 12 rebounds and Travis Evee topped the scoring with 27 points.
Between the Pepperdine loss and Thursday’s big win, Rice was able to get a lot of different players on the court, something head coach Scott Pera noted as a big plus in the team’s young season. “Those guys are going to start settling in,” he said. “Hopefully Tuesday night at Middle [Tennessee] won’t be so much a deer-in-the-headlights. We’ll say ‘we know what this is like. We know we need to do. Let’s go.”
Player Spotlight | Travis Evee
While Rice didn’t shoot particularly well from distance as a team on Thursday, Travis Evee was the exception. The junior guard drained seven three-pointers on just 10 attempts, a 70-percent clip from distance. That barrage from downtown was one shy of the school record, eight, matched most recently by Carl Pierre at Marshall last season.
“He was on fire,” Pera said, adding that he left Evee in the game just long enough to get the potential record-tying shot, which missed.
Aside from Evee, the team as a whole shot .368 from three, .250 if you exclude Evee’s contributions. Rice basketball is going to need a lot from Evee this year to get to where they want to go. Thursday served as a not-so-subtle reminder that he’s more than capable of being the sparkplug the Owls need.
Final Box | Rice 85 – St. Thomas 48
FINAL | @RiceMBB 85 – St. Thomas 48
— The Roost (@AtTheRoost) November 11, 2022
Up Next | Full Schedule
In an odd scheduling quirk, Rice basketball actually plays their first conference game in less than a week. The next time they take the court will be on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at Middle Tennessee with tipoff scheduled for 6:00 p.m. After that, they’re back in Houston to how the Owl Invitational, playing three games next weekend: Fri. (vs Georgia Southern), Sat. (vs Western Michigan) and Sun. (vs HCU)
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