Saturday, March 13, 2004

Owls NIT-Bound 

In a game that was a physical battle throughout, the Rice Owls lost to Nevada 67-59 in the semifinals of the WAC Championships.

I only listened to the game over the Internet, but there must have been at least ten times that our (admittedly biased) announcers sounded completely incredulous at either the ticky-tack nature of a call against Rice, or the lack of a foul call on Nevada. This disparity showed up in the box scores with Rice getting only 16 trips to the foul line compared to 29 for the NCAA-bound Wolfpack. And the game was sealed when top Rice scorer Michael Harris fouled out with six minutes to play (Wolfpack star Kirk Snyder was not called for a SINGLE foul).

Despite the foul disparity, the Owls could have won this game, but a season-long plague of missing free throws cost them, as they only hit 9 of 16 free throws (4 misses on the front end of one-and-ones), while Nevada hit 20 of 29.

In all likelihood, the loss eliminates the Owls from consideration for the NCAA tournament, but it will be hard for the NIT to dismiss their 22-10 season. Of course, its unlikely that the Owls will get to host a game, given the small size of Autry Court (seats less than 5000).

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