Fred Marshall knocks the ball away from Northwestern's Michael Jenkins (AP Photo)
Rice hit his first four shots, including three triple tries, but the Owls (0-2) trailed 36-23 at the half.
For the second consecutive game, the Owls fought back with tenacious defense in the second half, and whittled the NU lead down to four, 58-54, at the 1:57 mark thanks to three consecutive baskets by Ty McTyer, Rice, and Derrick Simmons.
The Wildcats would hang on, thanks to a huge dunk by Vedran Vukusic that he converted into a three-point play at the 1:01 mark. That made the score 61-54, and the Owls could get no closer. Vukusic would hit four consecutive foul shots to seal the victory.
Simmons played well once again off the bench, pouring in 12 points and four rebounds on 5-of-7 shooting. Paul Graham added 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting. Brent Crews and Rodney Webb led the team with seven rebounds apiece.
The Owls, who were out-rebounded by 13 in the opener against Colgate, were out-rebounded 22-8 in the first half, but fought back to edge the Wildcats 19-15 in the second period.
Poor shooting from behind the arc and at the foul line doomed the Owls for the second-consecutive contest. They converted just three of 15 triple tries (all by Rice in the first half), and went 10 of 20 from the penalty stripe.
Florida Atlantic now has nine days off, before they open up the home schedule against North Florida. Tip-off is set for Nov. 30, at 7 p.m.