SAN JOSE, Calif. – Rice may have had a 10-miunte drought without a field goal and set a season-high with 28 turnovers, but the Owls hung on to force overtime and eventually claim a 71-66 league win in the bonus period late Saturday night at the Events Center.
The Owls swooped out to an 18-9 lead midway through the first half, but the Rice offense stalled and did not make a field goal for the final 10 minutes. The Owls could manage only six free throws and the Spartans came back and take the lead at halftime, 23-22.
Rice then shot over 69 percent from the field in th second half to tie the game 56-56 and force overtime. The Owls then played their best five minutes of the evening in overtime, outscoring the Spartans 15-10 on the way to a 71-66 final.
Rice was led by Omar-Seli Mance's 19 points. The sophomore tandem of Jason McKrieth and Michael Harris both scored 15 points while junior Yamar Diene added 11.
Houston, Texas. - In Spartan Womens action, the Owls tripped up the women of Sparta 61-58 in a Western Athletic Conference game Saturday night at Autry Court on the Rice campus.
SJSU's Tiffany Wells put the Spartans on top 58-57 with a field goal with 3:39 left in the game, but Rice's Hayes answered with a layup off Elisa Inman's assist at 3:27 remaining to give the Lady Owls the lead for good. That particular field goal, assisted by Rice's Lindsey Maynard, with 53 seconds to go gave Rice its final pad.
San Jose State had numerous chances to tie the game, but the Spartans missed four three-point field goal attempts in the final 35 seconds.
Rice had as much as an 11-point lead (28-17) in the first half, but Cricket Williams led the Spartan comeback in the second half. She scored a game-high 18 points.
Hayes led Rice (8-10, 5-4) with 16 points, and Maynard had the first double-double (11 points, 12 rebounds) of her Rice career.
Rice shot only 29.7 percent from the field, the Lady Owls' second worst percentage of the season, but they made 21 of 24 free-throw attempts (87.5 percent).
For San Jose State (8-10, 4-5), Wells had 14 points and Tatiana Taylor added 13. Teoma Taylor led the rebounding effort with 10.
And now for the San Jose Mercury News' rendition of the Spartan mens loss:
Spartans succumb to Rice in overtime
TURNOVERS LATE IN REGULATION COST SJSU
By Ron Bergman of the Mercury News
All it seemed you needed to know about Saturday's basketball game came down to foul shots.
Rice came into the Event Center as the best free-throw shooting team in the Western Athletic Conference. San Jose State came in as the worst.
So when they totaled up the final statistics, there they were -- the Owls 27 for 31 from the line in their 71-66 overtime victory over SJSU.
Not that the Spartans shot poorly from the stripe. They hit 19 of 26 from the line, but it wasn't enough to counter a Rice team that overcame a season-high 28 turnovers.
Even one of Rice's rare missed free throws cashed in. With 22 seconds to go, Michael Harris put Rice on top 67-64 with a foul shot. But he missed the second, giving SJSU the opportunity to come back and tie with a three-point shot.
The Spartans neglected something. They didn't get the rebound. Harris ran in, plucked the ball off the board and laid it in for a 69-64 advantage, too much for the Spartans to overcome in such a short period of time.
``Somebody didn't block out their man,'' SJSU Coach Phil Johnson said. ``I'll have to take a look at the films to see who it was.''
SJSU (5-13, 2-7) put up its usual scrappy fight against Rice (13-6, 5-4), which came in leading the WAC in offense, field-goal percentage and three-point percentage, in addition to free throws.
``We practice a lot on free throws,'' Rice Coach Willis Wilson said. ``That's the one area we don't compromise on.''
The Spartans grabbed a 56-52 lead with 1:47 to go on a three-pointer by Scott Sonnenberg. But Maurice Moore and Sonnenberg each committed turnovers down the stretch that allowed Rice to catch up at 56-56 when Jason McKrieth hit two free throws with 50 seconds to go in regulation.
``If you have good technique, work on it in practice and block out the crowd, then it pays dividends,'' McKrieth said. ``Anytime a game is close, free throws make a difference.''
After McKrieth was called for a five-second violation with 50.9 seconds remaining in overtime and Rice clinging to a 64-62 lead, he stole a pass from Sonnenberg to Moore and sank both free throws when Moises Alvarez had to foul him to prevent a layup.
This was a fairly somber night all around. There was a moment of silence to start the game to honor the seven Columbia astronauts who lost their lives. And this was the night the Spartans paid tribute to former teammate James Jenkins, who died May 29 in a fall in Mammoth Lakes.
Jenkins' parents attended the game. They stood and waved to the crowd of 1,124 after it was announced that Jenkins' No. 55 would not be worn by a Spartans player for two seasons in addition to this season. The current players will wear a No. 55 patch on their right shoulders during that time.