Late Game Heroics Send Rice Past @HerdMBB

March 2, 2017

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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Egor Koulechov’s 3-pointer in the dying seconds of the game sent the Rice Owls past the Marshall men’s basketball team, 89-88, Thursday evening at the Cam Henderson Center.

With the loss, the Herd fell to 16-14 (9-8 C-USA), while Rice rose to 21-9 (11-6 C-USA).

Junior guard Jon Elmore (Charleston, W.Va.) recorded his seventh double-double of the season for the Herd, finishing with a game-high 27 points and 10 assists. Terrence Thompson (Durham, N.C.) added 19 points and nine rebounds and Stevie Browning (Logan, W.Va.) had 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Ryan Taylor (Indianapolis) recorded the 38th double-double of his career with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Koulechov had 22 points and 14 rebounds for Rice. Marcus Evans and Marcus Jackson added 13 apiece for the Owls and Marquez Letcher-Ellis had 12.

The Herd raced out to a 16-7 lead, hitting four 3-pointers in the first five minutes of the contest. Marshall led for the first 13:17 of the half until a Marcus Jackson 3-pointer for Rice tied the game at 29-29 with 6:43 left in the opening half.

Rice took its first lead of the game when Egor Koulechov made a layup with 5:36 remaining in the half, prompting a Marshall timeout. The teams kept trading baskets, but Koulechov’s layup in the last ten seconds of the half sent Rice to the intermission with a 44-43 lead.

Marshall regained the lead early in the second half on a layup by Thompson but the Owls took charge by going on a 13-2 run to take a 57-48 lead. Koulechov and Jackson combined to score nine of the 13 points during the run for Rice. The Herd cut the Rice lead to 60-57 following a 3-pointer by C.J. Burks (Martinsburg, W.Va), but the Owls responded with a pair of Koulechov 3-pointers.

The Herd used an 11-2 run to re-take the lead following a 3-pointer by Browning with just over seven minutes left in the contest. The teams continued to score at a back-and-forth pace until Jackson hit a 3-pointer to give Rice an 84-81 lead with less than two minutes remaining in the contest.

Browning hit a 3-pointer from the corner to give the Herd an 88-86 lead, but Koulechov hit a 3-pointer with less than ten seconds to go in the contest to give the lead back to Rice. Thompson missed a layup in the final seconds, allowing Rice to escape with an 89-88 win over the Herd.

COACH’S CORNER
Head coachDan D’Antoni

Opening statement:
“Well, it was the kind of ball game I thought it would be. They went up and down the floor. Those guys who stayed in there and played were all warriors. They made the plays right at the end, I thought it was going to be like that. You have to make the plays at the end of the game. I thought our guards were exceptional, Stevie Browning and Jon Elmore. We have to get our bigs contributing more. I still like where we are we played a hard game.”

On the defense for final play:
“Well two things one, CJ Burks is battling sickness and cramps and I could not put him in the ball game. Second thing was, we had to switch on everything and we hesitated on the top switch. We left him open and he shot and made it.”

On how hard Rice runs:
“They run really hard. It’s just tough we have all been sick including me. It’s been about two weeks now, and we are on the end of it. Between [Austin] Loop and everybody else all the way down through. When you play a game like this you start realizing you may not be on the end of it. They are extremely good at running what we do, and we are very good at what we do. It came down to a one point game, we had a look at it obviously.”

On Austin Loop’s performance:
“He’s been sick. He got frustrated out there, I could hear hi. He felt he couldn’t get the looks he wanted or the ball wasn’t getting to him when he had the looks. He had two great looks in the first half and they did not go down. He is recovery from where he was. I have said this along the way, if we are going to win we have to operate at a very high percentage. I did not want to put Ajdin [Penava] in the game he had sat for a long time with his four fouls and I did not want to put him in cold.”

PLAYER QUOTES
No. 33, junior guard Jon Elmore

On the game:
“We just didn’t make the plays that were necessary for us to win the game. Credit to Rice, they played a heck of a game. I thought we put ourselves in a lot of positions where we could have won it. I know personally I didn’t make the best play down the stretch. I think there were some things before that that kind of hurt us. We played hard, we can learn from it, move on tomorrow and go back to the drawing board.”

On the final play
“I tried to penetrate deep in the lane. The defender kind of got a hand on it, the ball got tipped to Terrence [Thompson] and we thought he had a pretty good look. It just didn’t fall, that’s the way it goes sometimes. We’ll bounce back and I think we’ll be ready for Saturday.”

On Rice’s Koulechov, who hit the winning basket:
“He’s a good player, he hit a lot of contested shots. I thought we played pretty good defense against him. If we see them again, we’ll try to limit him more, because he’s a heck of a player.”

On seeing the majority of Conference USA teams before the tournament:
“We’ve seen that we can pretty much play with everybody. I think we’ll be ready. We’ll keep working hard and pushing it and hopefully send these seniors off on a right note.”

On the potential for a hangover Saturday against North Texas:
“We’re not that type of team. We’ll all come together, bounce back and stay strong and keep fighting.”

NOTES
With the loss, Marshall lost against Rice for the first time since a 60-59 defeat against the Owls on March 11, 2009 in the first round of the Conference USA tournament. 

Jon Elmore’s 27 points leave him only nine points shy of reaching 1,000 career points.
Elmore led the team in points for the 14th time this season and in assists (10) for the 22nd time this season. He recorded his seventh double-double this season.
Ryan Taylor’s 13 points and 10 rebounds collected his 11th double-double of the season and the 38th of his career.
It was the second consecutive game where two Marshall players collected double-doubles.
Marshall moves to 4-3 this season when their opponent scores between 80 and 90 points, and falls to 4-5 when scoring between 80 and 90 points.
The team moves to 3-3 on the season in games decided by 1-5 points.

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UP NEXT
Marshall plays its final game of the regular season Saturday night when it hosts North Texas at 7 p.m. Ryan Taylor, Austin Loop and Stevie Browning will be honored prior to the contest for senior night.