Cougars fall apart in overtime
After taking a three-point lead on two Kirk Van Slyke free throws with 21 seconds left, the Cougars had their hearts ripped out when Rice guard Connor Frizzelle knocked down a three-pointer on a busted play to send the game to overtime and the Cougars never recovered from the momentum swing.
Rice upset the Cougars 79-71 Wednesday at Tudor Fieldhouse.
“In overtime we didn’t compete at all,” senior guard Zamal Nixon said. “They just came out and had that momentum going into overtime. We just couldn’t withstand that run they made. It was hard to try to get back in the game after that.”
With the game tied at 60 and 3 minutes remaining in overtime, Frizzelle grabbed a defensive rebound and threw a perfect outlet pass to Tamir Johnson for a lay-up — the Cougars never recovered.
The Owls were able to tally 33 points off of turnovers and second chance opportunities. On one possession with 15 minutes remaining in the second half, the Cougars (11-8, 3-3 Conference USA) allowed the Owls to grab three offensive rebounds before Owls forward Trey Stanton put in a layup and earned a trip to the line, where he converted the free throw.
“Too many turnovers, too many offensive rebounds, you cannot give up that many second chance points,” head coach James Dickey said.
“They get 12 more shots than we do just because of turnovers and because of offensive rebounds and they capitalize on that, which good teams are going to do.”
Nixon and backcourt mate Darian Thibodeaux were steadying forces in an offense that sometimes seemed unfocused. Nixon led the Cougars with 15 points and dished out four assists to go with his three 3-pointers. Thibodeaux finished with 12 points, nine of which came in the first half. Nixon and Thibodeaux also only committed two turnovers between the two of them.
“A lot of our turnovers were unforced,” Dickey said. “You just can’t turn the ball over and give any team a lot of second chance opportunities.
“Especially in conference.”