Eric Konkol gains first road win at Tulsa

Sports editor Jaralynn Tammi Morellano discusses men’s basketball in Houston.
Tulsa Men’s Basketball clutched a victory over the Rice Owls on Saturday, Jan. 27, in Houston. Tulsa held the lead for the majority of the game, leading to a close 85-83 conclusion. PJ Haggerty led the scoring with 21 points, 19 of them coming in the second half along with five rebounds, four assists and a steal.
Jared Garcia earned the first five points of the game with some strong moves in the key and at the three-point range. Despite its stunning start, Rice drew two fouls from Isaiah Barnes, sending him to the bench and allowing the Owls to put seven points to its score to take the lead.
With a key player out, Jesaiah McWright and Carlous Williams combined with back-to-back three-pointers to put the Golden Hurricanes ahead. Cobe Williams’ layup brought him to the line where his third point completed an 11-0 run for Tulsa. The score sat at 16-7 with 13:24 left on the clock.
The following plays would follow a similar pattern, a three-pointer from Rice putting a threat to Tulsa’s lead. The Golden Hurricane would retaliate with another scoring run of eight points to keep a strong gap at 27-15. Tulsa’s high would begin to simmer out, Rice outscoring them 16-9 in the final stretch of the half.
Rice held the ball with just under 10 seconds left before the half. However, Haggerty would intercept a pass to sink his first points of the game. The timer ran out at the end of his shot, and Tulsa entered halftime up 36-31.
The Golden Hurricane came into the second half with an immediate score by Haggerty. Combined with Garcia’s efforts, its consecutive plays put Tulsa up by 10 points. After these crucial points by Haggerty, the freshman continued to show his scoring prowess as his perfectly timed cut to the basket pushed Tulsa’s lead to 14 points. The assist from McWright put the score 56-42.
Tulsa would hold this double-digit lead for a whole seven minutes before Rice would bring the game within 9 points, trailing behind the Golden Hurricane 65-56 with 6:30 remaining. Tulsa would lose its comfortable victory as Rice’s buckets brought the score 66-60.
With a little over five minutes left, Haggerty took it back just as fast with his first and only three-point of the game. The Owls would continue to get knocked down by the Golden Hurricane, with Garcia dumping another three-pointer as Rice tried to close the gap again. With Cobe Williams’ reliable free throw shooting in tow, Tulsa was able to lead by 11 points.
The Owls continued chasing the Golden Hurricane, bringing its lead down once again with just a minute left in play. Rice brought Tulsa into a sticky end game and drew crucial fouls with seconds left on the clock. However, Garcia’s defense proved too good when he was able to place a hand on Rice’s last shooting attempt in the final 0.2 seconds of the game. The Owls were just a little off to secure the victory and lost by a narrow two points.
This marked the very first road victory of the season as well as the first during Eric Konkol’s career as head coach. Tulsa’s record improved to 11-8 for the season with a 2-5 standing in the American Athletic Conference.