Menno Dijkstra and Steven Jones made field goals to pull the Highlanders to 65-60. Letcher-Ellis scored four points to spark a 9-0 surge to stretch Rice's lead to 74-60 midway through the second half.
The Owls had a 12-point lead with three minutes left. Bland made a 3-pointer, and Thames and Johnson added field goals to pull the Highlanders to 82-77 with 1:28 left. Drone converted a 3-point play and Evans made two free throws to seal it.
It was the first meeting between the schools.