Rice scored 21 points and Spears had 18 with the two combining for 16 points during a 20-3 second-half run when BC took the lead and pulled away for a 68-62 victory Monday night. Both sat out one game for playing in an unsanctioned game over the summer.
"I said that both of them would come out with a vengeance," Florida Atlantic coach Rex Walters said. "I love Tyrese Rice. I absolutely love him, watching him on tape. ... When the stakes are at their highest, he absolutely has ice water in his veins."
Rice had nine assists and Spears had nine rebounds for the Eagles (2-0).
Carderro Nwoji scored 15 points, Paul Graham III had 14 and Carlos Monroe had eight rebounds for Florida Atlantic (0-2). The Owls led 53-45 with 8 minutes left before BC scored 14 of the next 15 points -- thanks in part to a technical foul against Walters -- and held Florida Atlantic to three free throws over the next 6:22.
Rice scored five straight points to trim the lead, and Spears converted a three-point play to tie it 53-all with 6:11 to play.
"Clearly, both showed their impact," BC coach Al Skinner said. "Shamari, his rebounding was important, his aggressive attitude was important."
BC has won at least 20 games in six of the last seven seasons, but Rice and Spears are among just five players return from last year's 21-12 team that poked its way into the AP's top 15 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
The Eagles beat New Hampshire 67-57 in the opener.
"It was real tough to sit out and watch my team play," Rice said. "Luckily it was only one game."
Spears said he felt like he let his teammates down "because of my poor decision over the summer."
"I felt like I owed them something," he said.
Florida Atlantic went up 20-19 with over 8 minutes left in the first half and held onto the lead until Rakim Sanders followed up his steal with a breakaway layup to give BC a 44-43 lead with 13:37 left. The Owls scored 10 of the next 11 points, with Graham hitting a 3-pointer that made it 53-45.
But BC went on a 14-1 run, getting all but two of the points from Rice or Spears. Rice followed two free throws with a 3-pointer to make it 53-50 and then Spears scored on a putback and drew the foul to tie it at 53.
Xavier Perkins made one of two free throws, but Spears scored on an assist from Rice to give BC the lead, and with 4:15 left Walters was called for a technical foul for complaining on the sideline.
"I'm not exactly sure what happened, but we got two extra free throws," Skinner said. "It allowed us to create some real separation."
Rice hit both free throws to give the Eagles a three-point lead, then Corey Raji scored on a putback to make it 59-54.
Leaving early for the NBA is a risky decision. Some players -- Skal Labissiere, Dejounte Murray -- slid in the draft. Some -- Isaiah Taylor, Troy Williams -- weren't drafted at all.
College basketball coaches across the country will hit the recruiting trail hard in July to target the Class of 2017's top prospects. Which players are the nation's top programs targeting?
The Tar Heels could lose Justin Jackson and Kennedy Meeks after next season. Coach Roy Williams has nearly every top-10 2017 prospect on his board.
|Texas San Antonio||3-15||13||5-27|