Friday, January 23, 2004

Buzzer Beater Leads Rice Over Fresno 

Jason McKreith hit a 17-footer from the right side with 1 second left to give the Owls a 65-63 win at Fresno St and move into a tie with Hawaii (which beat UTEP to go 13-3, 5-1) for first place in the WAC.

The Owls showed a toughness they did not display on Saturday in Tulsa. The victory, played before Fresno State's largest crowd of the season (14,226) is Rice's first-ever win in Fresno. The game was close the whole way and the hecklers were out (although the crowd was too noisy to pick out any individual taunts)

The Owls were down 58-54 with four minutes to play before McKrieth and fellow junior Michael Harris went to work. Harris had a monster rebound jam to cut it to 58-56 and McKrieth converted a three-point play on his rebound dunk to build a 59-58 Rice lead.
Harris then made two free throws for a 61-58 lead. Fresno State responded with two free throws to cut the Rice lead to one. Using a Rice timeout, Rice coach Willis Wilson drew up a play that resulted in a layup by Harris with 30 seconds left and Rice ahead 63-60.

But Fresno State's Terry Pettis hit a long three-pointer with 18 seconds remaining to knot the score at 63. Rice called timeout and setup the final play. With time running down, McKrieth received a pass from Rashid Smith and then juked and pumped-fake Pettis off his feet before burying the game winner.

McKrieth had a game-high 24 points with eight rebounds, while Harris added 16 points and eight boards.

Rice now stands at 13-4 with a 5-1 conference record while Fresno drops to 5-2 in the conference and 9-7 overall. Rice travels to Reno on Saturday to face preseason conference favorite Nevada (10-6, 4-3) in a huge game for the Owls.

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