A late 3-pointer lifted the Rice Owls to a thrilling 89-88 road victory over the Marshall Thundering Herd Thursday night in front of 4,994 fans at the Cam Henderson Center in Huntington, West Virginia.
The Herd (16-14, 9-8) had a two-point lead with just 12 seconds remaining in the game, but a huge 3-pointer with just 8 seconds remaining gave Rice (21-9, 11-6) a lead it would not relinquish and the Owls escaped with a nail-biting win.
Marshall came out strong to start the game and after guard Austin Loop connected on a 3-pointer, the Herd held a 16-7 lead with 15:31 remaining in the first half.
The Herd opened up its biggest lead of the game after guard Stevie Browning connected on a mid-range jumper to extend the lead to double-digits at 18-7 with 14:37 to go in the first half.
But Rice weathered the early storm by the Herd and fought its way back in the game. The Owls cut the Marshall lead down to 27-24 at the 8:57 mark of the first half after an old-fashioned 3-point play and they weren’t done from there.
Rice took its first lead of the game at 31-30 with 5:36 remaining in the first half and the remainder of the half went back and forth. The Herd held a 43-39 advantage with just over one minute to go until halftime, but the Owls closed out the half on a 5-0 scoring run to hold a slim 44-43 lead at halftime.
As the second half began, Rice began to take slight control of the game. The Owls’ lead grew to 55-48 with 15:58 remaining in the second half and led by as many as nine points in the half.
But the Herd rallied and after Browning connected on a 3-pointer at the 7:03 mark of the second half, Marshall regained the lead at 73-72. Herd point guard Jon Elmore connected on a pair of free throws to tie the game up again at 81 with 2:11 to go in the game.
Down 86-85 with under one minute remaining in the game, Browning connected on a huge 3-pointer that gave Marshall an 88-86 lead with just 23 seconds to go.
But the Owls had an answer with a dagger 3-pointer with just 8 seconds remaining to take the lead back at 89-88. The Herd was unable to score on its final possession in the closing seconds and Rice escaped with a thrilling 89-88 victory.
Elmore led Marshall with 27 points, 10 assists and four rebounds including 10-for-10 shooting from the free throw line. Forward Terrence Thompson finished with 19 points and nine rebounds as well for the Herd.
Browning added 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists while forward Ryan Taylor accounted for his 38th career double-double, finishing with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Guard C.J. Burks chipped in seven points and three rebounds off the bench as well for Marshall. Forward Egor Koulechov led Rice with 22 points and 14 rebounds including the game-winning 3-pointer in the final seconds.
Both teams were relatively even in all statistical categories for the game, but the Owls’ 53-37 rebounding advantage was the main difference in the game. With the loss, Marshall’s slim chance at a first round bye in the C-USA Tournament came to an end.
The Herd will be either the sixth or seventh seed in the C-USA Tournament and needs a win in its regular season finale to have a chance to gain that sixth seed.
Marshall’s regular season comes to a close Saturday night at home against North Texas on senior night. Rice closes its regular season on the road at Western Kentucky Saturday night.