Basketball: Owls’ lose ninth straight, fall to Rice 76-69

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Basketball: Owls’ lose ninth straight, fall to Rice 76-69

Guard Solomon Poole scored a team-leading 22 points in the Owls' loss to Rice on Feb. 21. Photo by Idalis Streat

Guard Solomon Poole scored a team-leading 22 points in the Owls' loss to Rice on Feb. 21. Photo by Idalis Streat

Guard Solomon Poole scored a team-leading 22 points in the Owls' loss to Rice on Feb. 21. Photo by Idalis Streat

Guard Solomon Poole scored a team-leading 22 points in the Owls' loss to Rice on Feb. 21. Photo by Idalis Streat

Ryan Lynch, Contributing Writer

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The Florida Atlantic Owls (8-17, 1-13 C-USA) were unable to come out with a victory in their 76-69 loss to the Rice Owls, falling behind late in the first half.

The Owls’ came within three points of Rice with 16 seconds left in the game, almost overcoming a 13 point lead Rice held with 17 minutes left in the second half.

FAU was only down seven points at the end of the first half, rallying behind the scoring of junior guard Solomon Poole and senior center Justin Raffington, who had nine and five points respectively.

“We’re not nearly good enough to spot teams points,” said head coach Michael Curry on his team’s struggle to keep the lead in the first half. “Only thing that happened better was we came out and fought in the second half.”

Florida Atlantic struggled from the foul line throughout the game, shooting 14-of-23. Rice shot 18-of-18 from the free-throw line.

“We can’t miss nine free-throws in a closely contested game,” said Curry of his team’s problems from the line.

Junior guard Solomon Poole put up one of his best efforts of the year, scoring 22 points. Poole was taken out in the first two minutes of the game after two turnovers.

“We have to find a way to get him to where he’s not so wound up during the first half,” Curry said of Poole’s initial turnovers and benching in the first half. “He has to be a guy who sits and then comes out and plays.”

Rice (10-16, 7-7 in Conference USA) relied heavily on 3-point baskets, shooting 8-of-19 from 3-point range. Their leading scorer was junior guard Max Guercy, who put up 25 points.

“We defended the three all year, we have concepts for defending against the three,” Curry said of the Owls’ shooting. “We knew they shot well from the three, but when we defended the way we were supposed to, we did good.”

FAU has now lost nine games in a row. They are 0-4 against teams from Texas this season [Rice, UTEP, UTSA, and North Texas].

Up next for the Owls is a road game against Western Kentucky University on Feb. 26.

Ryan Lynch is a contributing writer at the University Press. He can be reached at @LynchLagz on Twitter or [email protected]