BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Erik McCree had 17 points and 12 rebounds to help No. 1 seed Louisiana Tech beat ninth-seeded Rice 70-64 in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA tournament on Thursday night.
Alex Hamilton scored 15, Raheem Appleby 11, and Michale Kiser added 10 for Louisiana Tech (25-7), which will face fourth-seeded UAB in the semifinals Friday.
Rice (12-20), which trailed by as many as 15 in the second half, scored nine in a row, and 11 of 13, to pull within three twice in the final 1:22.
Louisiana Tech, however, made 5 of 6 free throws in the final 43 seconds to hold off the Owls.
The Bulldogs made just one of its last eight field-goal attempts and shot 39.7 percent for the game, but committed just six turnovers while converting 17 Rice miscues into 24 points.
Seth Gearhart led Rice with 16 points, including 12 in the second half.
HOUSTON 66, TULANE 60: In Hartford, Conn., Jherrod Stiggers made five 3-pointers and finished with 23 points as Houston beat Tulane in the first round of the American Athletic Conference tournament.
Cavon Baker secured the victory on a defensive rebound and pair of free throws with nine seconds left.
Baker finished with 20 points and the 10th-seeded Cougars, winners of four straight, will take on No. 2 seed Tulsa in the quarterfinals on Friday.
Houston (13-18) led 57-45 on Danrad Knowles’s jumper with 5:24 left, but seventh-seeded Tulane (15-16) answered with seven straight points and pulled within 64-60 with 22 seconds left.
But Kajon Mack missed the second of two free throws and Jonathan Stark and Louis Dabney both missed follow-up chances.
After Tulane tied it 36-all midway through the second half, the Cougars pulled away with a 15-3 run.
Payton Henson led the Green Wave with 14 points. Dabney and Jay Hook added 13 apiece.
NORTHWESTERN STATE 96, MCNEESE STATE 89: In Katy Texas, Zeek Woodley scored 34 points, two off a career high, and fourth-seeded Northwestern State ran away from fifth-seeded McNeese State to advance in the Southland Conference tournament.
Northwestern State (19-11) will face No. 1 seed Stephen F. Austin (27-4) on Friday in the semifinals.
Woodley was 14 of 17 from the floor with three 3-pointers and nine rebounds.
McNeese State (15-16) was led by Kevin Hardy with 25 points. Keelan Garrett and Desharick Guidry had 20 apiece. The Cowboys made the first shot of the day, but never tied or led again.
Woodley’s dunk with 28 seconds left in the first half put Northwestern State up 41-34 at the break.
The lead exploded to 13 just 1 ½ minutes into the second half after 3s by Ta’Jon Welcome and Jalan West, sandwiched around another Woodley dunk.
West finished with 24 points and 12 assists.
A 10-point run later in the half pushed the lead over 20 points.
McNeese scored the last 10 points of the game to make the score respectable.
TEXAS A&M-CC 61, UNO 58: In Katy, Texas, John Jordan scored 22 points and had five steals and third-seeded Texas A&M-Corpus Christi rallied to beat UNO to advance to face second-seeded Sam Houston State in a Southland Conference tournament semifinal on Friday.
Rashawn Thomas scored 13 points and the Islanders (19-12) made only 1 of 14 shots from long distance but hit 22 of 34 free throws.
Nate Frye and Kevin Brown hit back-to-back 3-pointers and No. 7 seed UNO led 16-7 early, but the Islanders used a 12-2 run capped by Thomas’ layup to pull ahead 19-18. The lead flip-flopped until Tevin Broyles made two free throws with 12 seconds left and UNO led 34-33 at halftime.
The Privateers pulled ahead 40-34 on a jumper by Travin Thibodeaux early in the second half, but Brandon Pye’s jumper tied it at 42 and sparked an 11-3 run that put the Islanders up 51-45 with 6:04 left. Bryce Douvier hit two free throws for a 59-56 Islanders lead with 1:26 to go. Frye pulled the Privateers within a point, 59-58, with two free throws with 1:06 to go.
Frye led the Privateers (11-18) with 20 points and Thibodeaux grabbed 12 rebounds.
MIDDLE TENNESSEE 77, LOUISIANA TECH 58: In Birmingham, Alabama, Middle Tennessee got a boost from a group of role players to defeat Louisiana Tech in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA tournament at Bartow Arena
Olivia Jones, who entered the game averaging 20.2 points per game for the Blue Raiders, picked up three fouls in the first six minutes of the game and sat the rest of the half.
However, Ty Petty, Brea Edwards and Tianna Porter stepped up combining to score 62 points in the win. Middle Tennessee advances to Friday’s semifinals to face Southern Miss.
Louisiana Tech fell to 16-15 on the season.
Tech senior Whitney Frazier finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
NORTHWESTERN STATE 63, CENTRAL ARKANSAS 49: In Katy, Texas, behind clutch performances from three veterans, sixth-seeded and defending tournament champion Northwestern State extended its Southland Conference tournament winning streak to four games.
Keisha Lee provided a two-way spark for the Lady Demons (16-14), who advance to play third-seeded Nicholls in Friday’s 1:30 p.m. quarterfinal.
Lee poured in a game-high 19 points and forced Central Arkansas’ Maggie Proffitt into a 1-for-12 shooting effort from the field.
Janelle Perez finished with 16 points and Presley Owens added 10 points for Northwestern State.
Brianna Mullins and Terai Sadler led Central Arkansas with 10 points each.
HOUSTON BAPTIST 70, McNEESE STATE 68: In Katy, Texas, McNeese fought back from a 17-point first half deficit before losing to No. 8 seed Houston Baptist in the Southland Conference tournament.
McNeese ended its season with a 17-13 record.
Talisa Boyd ended her playing career with a double-double (14 points, 12 rebounds). Jayln Johnson led all players with a game-high 17, and Allison Baggett chipped in 11. Johnson also ended the game with eight assists.
HBU held a three-point lead with 38 seconds left in the game but McNeese’s Amber Donnes made a layup and was fouled with 14 second left. Donnes missed the free throw that would have tied the game at 66.
With seven seconds left and McNeese trailing 66-65, a flagrant foul was called on Boyd after she and HBU’s Tayler Jefferson went after a loose ball.
Jefferson made both free throws to give the Huskies a 67-65 lead.
HBU retained possession, and Heidi Sihvola was fouled with five seconds. She also made both free throws for a 70-65 HBU lead.
Donnes closed out the Cowgirls’ scoring by hitting a 3-pointer with two seconds left.