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Hot-shooting Owls doom Cards for first win

Lamar sports information

HOUSTON – Sophomore Kevin Booze scored 25 points and junior Lincoln Davis added 16, but the Cardinals could not overcome the best offensive performance of the young season from Rice.

The Owls had six players finish the night in double digits to defeat the Cardinals, 92-84,Wednesday evening at Tudor Fieldhouse. The Cardinals drop to .500 (2-2) on the season, while the Owls are now 1-4 (.200).

“I was not happy with our defensive performance tonight,” said head coach Tic Price. “This is a maturation process, but tonight we took a step backwards. The game started at 7 p.m., but we didn’t show up until 7:45. I told our guys tonight you can walk into an open gym and shoot 50 percent, and tonight Rice shot nearly 52 against us. We can’t allow that to happen.”

The Owls were 29 of 56 (.518) from the field and shot better than 82 percent from the free throw line, while holding LU to a 27-of-65 (.415) performance. The Cardinals knocked down 9 of 25 three-pointers (.360) and out-rebounded their hosts, 36-34.

The Owls took advantage of some early LU turnovers to build a 10-point advantage. Although the Cardinals didn’t turn the ball over in the final 8 minutes of the opening half, Rice took advantage of eight turnovers in the first 10 minutes to score 12 points from the miscues.

Rice converted eight of its first 12 attempts (.667) attempts and 3 of 6 (.500) from beyond the arc, to build a 23-8 lead with 12:14 remaining in the first. While Rice came out firing on all cylinders, the Cards were trying to fight their way through a 2-of-7 (.286) start. Big Red was able to find a spark in senior Dontavious Sears.

After classmate Quan Jones hit a basket to cut the lead to 21-8, Sears came off the bench to hit consecutive baskets and then got a steal which led to a layup. Following two Sears’ free throws, the Cards pulled within eight, 25-17.

Big Red continued the rally cutting the lead to four following a Booze three-pointer with just over 8 minutes remaining in the half. LU cooled off following the triple as Rice pushed its lead to 14 before LU cut the lead back to nine, 49-40, heading into the locker room.

The Owls shot 17 of 28 (.607) from the field in the opening half, while the Cardinals finished 13 of 29 after a slow start. Both teams received help from their reserves as LU had 18 points off the bench to Rice’s 16.

The two teams reversed roles to start the second half. Sparked by two Booze three-pointers, LU went on a 13-3 run to take a one-point lead, 53-52, with 18:11 on the clock. From the 18-minute mark on, the rest of game was a nail-biter as neither team could gain more than a six-point lead until the 3:27 mark. The final 20 minutes of action consisted of eight ties and four lead changes, but the Cardinals could never get over the hump down the stretch. Every run LU had was answered by a Rice squad that finished with six players in double-digits led by 20 from Marcus Evans.

Freshman Nick Garth added 11 points. Senior Preston Mattingly came off the bench to score a career-high 10 points and pull down a team-high seven rebounds.

The Cardinals return to action Sunday when they return home to host California-Riverside. The game against the Highlanders is slated to tip at 2 p.m. from the Montagne Center.

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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