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Basketball advances to second round of CIT

By Dan Elledge     3/14/12 7:00pm

Even though the Owls did not win an elusive bid to the NCAA tournament, they still get to participate in postseason play. Rice was invited to participate in the CIT, the College Insider Tournament. The tournament featured 32 teams with all teams coming from smaller or "mid-major" conferences with games played on the court of the higher seed.

The Owls landed a first-round matchup at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. The Ragin' Cajuns finished the year with a 16-15 record including a 10-6 record in the Sun Belt conference.

The Owls did not want to end their season on a three-game losing streak and came into the game with a lot of pride. On Wednesday, the Owls and Ragin' Cajuns went back and forth as there were 13 lead changes in the game. With the Owls down 54-51, Rice turned on the jets and proceeded to take control of the game.

Senior forward Lucas Kuipers got the run going as he nailed a three to tie the game off at 54-54. Freshman guard Dylan Ennis helped put Rice up for good as he drained a jumper to give the Owls a 56-54 lead. Junior guard Tamir Jackson and junior forward Arsalan Kazemi combined for the next five points to give Rice a comfortable 61-54 lead. Senior guard Connor Frizzelle capped off the 12-0 run with two free throws to give the Owls a 63-54 advantage. Rice hit enough free throws down the stretch to push away the Ragin' Cajuns and come up with a 68-63 upset on the road.

Frizzelle led all Rice scorers with 18 points as he also added a team-high of four assists. Ennis and freshman Julian DeBose added 10 points apiece along with a strong performance by Kazemi who got 12 rebounds. Kuipers contributed on the defensive end as he notched five rebounds and three blocks.

The Owls' next game is at home against Drake University at 7 p.m. in Tudor Fieldhouse. Drake finished 9-9 in conference and had an overall record of 18-15. The Bulldogs won their first-round CIT match-up at home against North Dakota University with a 70-64 win. The Owls hope to continue their run in the CIT and advance to the quarterfinals, which will take place later in the week.

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