MBB falls to conference-leading FAU in high scoring affair
The Rice men’s basketball team fell 90-81 to Florida Atlantic University on Thursday. It was a matchup of the Owls, but ultimately Sammy and Rice were no match for Owlsley and FAU, who remained undefeated at home and moved to 23-2 on the season. The loss was Rice’s fourth consecutive in conference play, dropping the Owls to 6-7 record in Conference USA and 15-9 on the season.
Rice managed to keep the score close throughout the game but could not catch FAU after they separated themselves midway through the first half. Five Rice turnovers in a three-minute span led to nine FAU fast-break points, sparking a 15-3 run which started with 9:28 left in the first half and giving them a game-high lead of 13 points. After the game, head coach Scott Pera said their defense wasn’t able to help them close the gap.
“We just couldn’t get it under five [points],” Pera said. “Our defense wasn’t good enough to win the game.”
Behind strong games from junior guards Quincy Olivari and Travis Evee, who scored 27 and 25 points respectively, Rice was able to cut FAU’s lead to five points on seven occasions during the game. However, each time Rice closed the gap, FAU responded. After the game, head coach Scott Pera commended his team’s effort, saying Olivari and Evee are crucial for any future success.
“We got Travis and Quincy both going, which is what we have to have every night,” Pera said. “I’m really happy to see Travis kind of get back in his groove, making shots and seeing the ball go through the net because that is critical for our success.”
FAU’s top-rated offense proved to be too much for Rice to contain. Led by 7’1” sophomore center Vladislav Goldin, who scored a career high 19 points, FAU was able to dominate the interior and get close-range baskets inside the point. In total, four FAU players managed to score in double figures. Pera said that FAU’s depth made them difficult to stop.
“They play nine [players] and they all play a lot of minutes,” Pera said. “That’s kind of the magic potion on them. They’re deep, they’re talented and they’re connected. They deserve to win.”
Currently, FAU is projected to be a No. 9 seed in the NCAA tournament according to Joe Lunardi’s most recent bracket.
After a bounce back 85-78 win on the road versus Florida International University, Rice moved to 16-9 on the season and No. 5 in C-USA. Their next game is at Tudor Fieldhouse against the University of Texas at San Antonio, who are currently in last place in C-USA, on Feb. 16. The game will tip off at 7 p.m.
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