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MENâ€™S BASKETBALL FALLS IN SEASON OPENER AT RICE
HOUSTON, Texas -- Rice opened the game on a 13-0 spurt, and later added an 11-0 run midway through the second half as the Owls defeated Sacramento State, 81-51, in the first round of the Rice Men’s Basketball Challenge Friday evening at the Tudor Fieldhouse.
The game marked the season opener for the Hornets and Owls, and both squads will play twice more over the weekend to complete the three-day tournament. Rice, which is a member of Conference USA, is the tournament host. In the today’s first game, South Alabama defeated Houston Baptist, 76-64.
Sacramento State struggled to find its range all night long, beginning the game by missing its first 10 field goal attempts, and eventually shooting just 34.0 percent (18-53) from the field and 26.1 percent (6-23) from the three-point line. The Hornets were also outrebounded, 40-28, and limited to just eight boards on the offensive glass.
After trailing, 13-0, in the first half, the Hornets were able to claw their way back into the game, eventually cutting the lead to six points (19-13 with 7:21 to play). After exchanging buckets the next three minutes, the Owls closed the half on a 7-2 run, including a jumper from Emerson Herndon just before the buzzer, to take a 34-22 lead into the break.
Rice opened the second stanza on a 13-8 run to take a 17-point lead (45-28) with 15:12 remaining in the contest, and led by at least that many points the rest of the way. The Owls opened up a lead as large as 31 points late in the second half before finishing off the 30-point win.
Rice shot 49.1 percent (27-55) from the field and a blistering 47.8 percent (11-23) from the three-point line. Seven different Owls buried at least one three-pointer and 33 of the team’s 81 points came from beyond the arc. Four players scored in double figures for Rice, comprised of Connor Frizzelle (18 points), Lucas Kuipers (12 points, game-high 8 rebounds), Suleiman Braimoh (10 points, 7 rebounds) and Arsalan Kazemi (10 points.).
Frizzelle (7-for-10), Kuipers (5-for-8) and Braimoh (5-for-5), each of whom are starters, combined to shoot 73.9 percent (17-for-23) from the field. Frizzelle went 4-of-5 from beyond the three-point line.
Sacramento State freshman swingman John Dickson led all Hornets with 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the field, including 3-of-6 from beyond the arc. Dickson, who also became the first Hornet true freshman to start a season opener since the 1998-99 season, also had two blocks and a steal in 25 minutes.
Dickson was the only Hornet in double figures and the only member of the team to knock down more than three field goals. Seniors Domineek Daniel (7 points, 3 rebounds, team-best 3 assists), Justin Eller (7 points) and Michael Selling (6 points, 5 rebounds) and junior Sultan Toles-Bey (6 points, 5 rebounds, game-high 4 steals) all chipped in at least six points. Selling (3-for-5) was the only Hornet to shoot better than 50 percent from the field.
Sacramento State finished the game with nine steals, and scored 12 points off those turnovers.
Dickson, Toles-Bey, Daniel, and freshmen Dani Lopez and Brad Johnstin each played in their first regular season games in a Sacramento State uniform. Eller is the only Hornet with more than one year of experience in the Green and Gold.
The Hornets finish the tournament with games on Saturday (vs. Houston Baptist at 3:05 p.m. PST) and Sunday (vs. South Alabama at 11:05 a.m. PST).
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