Jan. 27, 2018
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By: Tim Andrzejewski (firstname.lastname@example.org)HOUSTON, Texas
-- Rice shot 60.0% from the field in the second half, but it was not enough as Justin Massey's last second three-pointer gave Florida Atlantic the 63-62 victory Saturday afternoon from Tudor Fieldhouse.
Junior Connor Cashaw led Rice with 16 points and seven rebounds. Sophomore Ako Adams had 11 points and a game-high five assists and freshman Malik Osborne added 10 points and a team-leading eight boards.
"All the credit goes to (Justin Massey)," said Rice head coach Scott Pera. "It's a shot he'll remember for the rest of his life. Bishop (Mency) had a hand in his face. You don't make many of those. But he made it when he needed to. The credit goes to (Florida Atlantic). They deserved to win."
Rice (5-17, 2-7 C-USA) trailed 30-22 at the break, but opened the second half on a 13-3 run to take a 34-33 lead, its first lead since 12-9. The teams traded baskets over the next 5:01. With the game tied at 44, Rice got layups from Adams, Austin Meyer and Osborne to take its largest lead of the game, 50-44, with 7:35 to play.
However, FAU scored seven of the next nine points over the next 2:31 to cut the lead to 52-51. After a layup by Meyer, Gerdarius Troutman tied the game with a three. Meyer hit another layup, but two free throws by Massey followed by a jumper from Ronald Delph gave Florida Atlantic a 58-56 lead with 2:59 to play.
Cashaw connected on two straight baskets, but Delph answered to tie the game at 60 with a minute to remaining.
After each team missed a three-pointer, Cashaw ran the clock down before drilling a jumper to give Rice the 62-60 lead with 3.2 seconds to play. However, FAU inbounded the ball and Payton Hulsey found Massey from 30 feet away for the game-winning three.
Pera added, "It's tough. It's tough because of the kids that you coach. I hurt for them because they are doing all the right things in turns of what it takes to win and get better at this level. But, sports can be cruel. Sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it doesn't. But I also thought that if we had played a better first half, then maybe it doesn't come down to that. We played one half of basketball and we needed to play two."
Rice made four of its first five three-pointers to take an early 12-9 lead. But Rice went cold, missing 13 straight shots over the next 10:03 as Florida Atlantic went on a 13-2 run to take a 22-14 lead. Rice finally got a basket when Cashaw hit a three, but FAU answered with a four-point play.
Ako Adams made a layup and Miles Lester hit one-of-two free throws, but consecutive baskets by Florida Atlantic gave it its largest lead of the half, 30-20, with 1:16 to play. After Cashaw made a layup, Rice had three cracks at the basket with time winding down, but it could not get one to fall and it went into halftime trailing by eight.
Rice shot 42.4% (25-of-59) from the floor and 34.8% (8-of-23) from three. However, it was just 4-of-8 from the free throw line. Florida Atlantic connected on just 24-of-60 (40.0%) from the field and 6-of-19 (31.6%) from three. But FAU was 9-of-11 (81.8%) from the charity stripe.
Rice was also outrebounded, 41-to-34.
Rice begins a three-game road trip next Saturday, Feb. 3, when it travels to Denton to face North Texas. Tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m. CT and the game will be livestreamed at ESPN3.