CORPUS CHRISTI – Zane Knowles' game-tying tip at the buzzer was waved off due to a foul, and the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men's basketball team fell to Rice, 63-61, on Wednesday night.
Down two with 0.4 seconds on the clock, Jeff Beverly hit the first of two free throws, and got a perfect rebound for Knowles on the miss, but the big man was whistled for a foul on the floor, and his tip as the horn sounded was waved off. Sean Obi missed both free throws for the Owls (2-2) at the other end, but the Islanders (3-3) were unable to get a shot off in time.
Beverly finished with a team-best 14 points in the game, while John Jordan added 13 points, four assists and five rebounds. Obi led all scorers with 16 points and snared 11 boards for a double-double to lead the Owls. Austin Ramljak (14), Max Guercy (11) and Marcus Jackson (10) also finished in double figures for Rice.
A&M-Corpus Christi got out to a 5-0 lead early on. The Islanders got a three-ball from Joy Williamson on their second possession of the game, then added a tip-in from Knowles for a 5-0 lead. At that point, both teams went ice cold from the field, combining for only one field goal over the next 6:40. But Cole Martinez broke the drought by knocking down a triple from the left corner to make it a 9-5 game at the 10:40 mark.
Rice then went on a 7-0 run, culminating in a Guercy layup, to make it a 12-9 ballgame with 6:41 before the break. Both teams saw an offensive uptick at that point, with the Islanders getting a 7-0 run that was capped by another Martinez three – his seventh in his last 10 tries from distance. The Owls scored four straight to tie the score, and from there, both teams traded baskets to enter the break tied 21-all.
Out of the break, the two teams continued the pattern of give-and-take, with the Islanders grabbing a 27-26 lead at the 16:47 mark. But that's when Rice went on a 9-0 run, sparked by a pair of threes from Ramljak to surge ahead, 35-27. The Owls were able to push their lead to 11 at the 9:47 mark, 46-35.
The Islanders responded with a 9-2 run to trim the deficit to just four. A three-point play by Jordan and a jumper by Jake Kocher in the lane were the key plays in the rally. After two free throws by Obi pushed the lead to 50-44, A&M-Corpus Christi went on a 6-0 run to knot the score at 50 apiece. A steal by Kocher led to a fast-break layup for Hameed Ali to knot the score.
But the home squad wasn't done yet, regaining the lead on a pair of free throws for Ali with 5:19 to play. Rice added another rally, though, tying the score at the free-throw line and following that up with an Obi layup and a Ramljak three pointer to make it 59-54. The Islanders trimmed the lead to one twice in the final 37 seconds, but Rice hit its free throws down the stretch to preserve the victory.
The Islanders will be back in action on Saturday, as they return to the road for a contest at former Southland foe UTSA. Tipoff is slated for 2 p.m. at the Convocation Center. Yannis Koutroupis will have the call on NewsRadio 1360 KKTX starting at 1:45 with the pregame show.
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