Rice men roll past Pepperdine in season opener 82-63

Owls visit UH Friday night at Fertitta Center

HOUSTON – Opening night of college basketball season began on a high note for Head Coach Scott Pera and his Rice Owls. Rice began the second half on a 30-7 run to turn a one-point halftime lead into an 82-63 season-opening victory over Pepperdine, Tuesday night from Tudor Fieldhouse.

The Story

Rice started the game hot from long range as Carl Pierre and Travis Evee combined for three, three-pointers in the first three minutes to give Rice a 10-5 lead. Pepperdine responded, going on a 13-2 run to take an 18-12 lead three minutes later. Mylyjael Poteat’s layup sent Rice on a 9-2 run to retake the lead, 21-20, midway through the first half. The teams then battled the rest of the half, trading leads eight times in the final 10 minutes before a pair of Evee free throws sent the Owls into halftime clinging to a 36-35 lead.

After Quincy Olivari drove in for a layup to start the second half, Evee connected on back-to-back triples as the Owls opened the second half on a 13-0 run in the first four minutes. The Waves finally got on the board with two straight buckets to get back to within 10 points. But consecutive layups by Terrance McBride and Max Fiedler sent the Owls on an 8-0 run to push their lead to 66-42 with 10 minutes to play. Rice would extend its advantage to as many as 28 points (75-48) before closing the game.

The Stats

Rice connected on 49.5% from the field and 35.3% from three. Pepperdine was held to just 35.4% from the floor and 32.1% from three. Rice also outrebounded the Waves, 43-to-36.

What Scott Pera Had to Say

“This was just a terrific opening night victory for our guys over a well-coached and good Pepperdine team. For our guys to respond like that in the second half, I thought was mature. I knew they were holding themselves accountable. They didn’t play as well as they can offensively in first half. But we defended. We defended for 40 minutes. That was the difference. I thought we wore them down a little bit. It was just a really great win.”

Notes

• Jaden Geron, Noah Hutchins and Damion McDowell, Jr. saw their first career action

• Terrance McBride and Carl Pierre saw their first playing time at Rice.

• Rice and Pepperdine met for the first time since 1981 and just the fourth time overall.

• The series is tied at two with Rice wining both games in Houston.

• The 19-point victory is the biggest in a season-opener since defeating James Madison, 94-70, in 2016-17.

• Rice connected on 30-of-61 (49.2%) from the field and 11-of-31 (35.5%) from three.

• Rice’s 12 steals were the most since recording 14 against Houston Baptist on Nov. 30, 2016.

• The Owls held Pepperdine to just 35.4% from the floor and 32.1% from three.

• Sophomore Travis Evee led all players with 24 points, including 6-of-10 from three. It was most points scored in a season-opener since Morris Almond had 24 against Paul Quinn in 2006-07.

• Evee has connected on a three in 21 straight games, tied for the seventh-longest stretch in school history.

• Graduate student Carl Pierre scored 13 points and had three assists.

• Second year freshman Mylyjael Poteat was a perfect 5-of-5 from the floor, scoring 10 points while adding seven rebounds.

• Sophomore Max Fiedler scored nine points and grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds. It was his 16th career double-figure rebound game.

• Sophomore Jake Lieppert added a career-high five rebounds.

Next Up Rice will stay in town for its first road game when it heads to No. 14/15 Houston this Friday, Nov. 12. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game will be livestreamed at ESPN+.