Gabe Blair scored 19 points and pulled down 13 rebounds as East Carolina knocked off Rice 75-68 at the Leonard E. Merrell Center Wednesday.
The Pirates came back from a 35-31 halftime lead, outscoring Rice 9-0 at one point early in the second period and taking a 42-39 advantage on a Sam Hinnant three-pointer. The Owls would regain the lead, 45-44 on a Patrick Britton layup at the 13:26 mark before ECU went on a 15-2 run.
East Carolina's game-winning rally was sparked by a pair of Blair offensive boards and putback shots. The run also included a Brock Young backcourt steal and layup. Young scored the final seven points of the rally.
The ECU win came despite a career-high 40-point night by Britton who will play in his final home game as a Rice senior on Saturday when the Owls play host to SMU. Britton scored seven of the Owls' first 10 points and had 21 by halftime. His previous career high was 24 points against Texas State back in December.
Rice dressed just nine players for Wednesday's game. Junior guard Rodney Foster, who had become the Owls' leading scorer, suffered a broken hand in practice on Tuesday and is out for the year. Foster becomes the second Rice player to suffer an injury when he was leading the team in scoring. Senior forward Paulius Packevicius, who not only was leading the team in scoring but also averaging almost 10 rebounds per contest at the time of a knee injury in late January, has missed the Owls' last 10 games.
With Wednesday's loss, Rice fell to 3-25 and 0-15 in Conference USA play. East Carolina is now 11-17 and 5-10 in the league. The Pirates snapped a 23-game road losing streak in conference games which dated back to 2005.