Rice (12-16 4-10) was paced by Tamir Jackson who scored 18 points in a losing effort. Lucas Kuipers also got involved, netting 15 points, while Arsalan Kazemi tallied 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Owls.
ECU got off to a fast start, shooting 55.6 percent from the floor in the first half, to take a 43-33 lead at the break.
The Pirates kept the pressure on in the second stanza, knocking down 6-of-12 three-point attempts, en route to a three-point victory.
Three-point shooting proved to be the difference in the contest as ECU outscored Rice 42-21 from long distance.