HOUSTON (AP) Marcus Evans scored a career-high 32 points and Rice defeated St. Thomas (Texas) 67-54 on Thursday.
Evans recorded his third straight 20-point game in making of 9 of 15 shots and erasing his previous high of 28 points.
Marquez Letcher-Ellis added 10 points and a career-high 13 rebounds for his first double-double.
Evans scored five straight points in the first half to spark a 9-0 Rice (4-6) run for the lead. He scored 10 points in a 12-3 run for a 34-20 halftime advantage.
The NAIA Celts cut the lead to six with 8:51 left in the game but Evans made five straight free throws. Five more consecutive points by Evans made it a 13-point margin with under two minutes left.
Bryon Makel made 5 of 6 3-point attempts and scored 19 points for St. Thomas.
The Owls made 21 of 37 free throws. The Celts sank their four.