One year removed from losing the first seven games of her Rice career, head coach Tina Langley and the Rice women’s basketball team started their 2016-17 campaign with a 68-57 victory over Prairie View A&M University.
Three Rice players scored in double figures. Junior guard Shani Rainey led the team with 20 points and added eight rebounds, senior forward Jasmine Goodwine scored 17 points and senior guard Maya Hawkins added 15 points including three 3-pointers.
Hawkins also led the team with eight assists and was second on the team with seven rebounds. According to Langley, Hawkins’ all-around effort was pivotal in the victory.
“Maya was a catalyst for our team with eight assists,” Langley said. “She is really tough, has a willingness to work hard and possesses tremendous leadership.”
Rice shot well as a team, going 24-of-52 from the field (46 percent) and 8-of-22 from 3-point range (36 percent). The Owls also held Prairie View to shooting 23-of-65 from the field (35 percent) and 1-of-9 from three-point range (11 percent). Langley said she was pleased with her team’s effort and execution.
“I'm really proud for our team tonight," Langley said. "They've been working incredibly hard. It's a very selfless group of young women. They came out and really competed as a unit and got us our first win.”
The game started with defensive stops by Rice on four consecutive possessions, including two steals, which resulted in a 5-0 lead a minute and a half into the game. The Owls used the three-point shot as a basis for early offense, with Goodwine, Rainey and Hawkins all connecting from downtown to outscore the Lady Panthers 21-15 in the first period.
Layups by Prairie View A&M’s senior guard Alexus Parker and freshman guard Dominique Newman cut the lead to 21-19 with 8:30 left in the second period. However, six team assists and two three-pointers by Hawkins sparked a 17-5 Owls’ run to close the half with a 38-24 lead.
Rainey connected on two 3-point shots to expand Rice’s lead to 22 with 5:05 remaining in the third period. Prairie View A&M responded with a layup and three-point shot from Parker to condense the lead to 14 and hold a 56-42 deficit on the scoreboard.
Prairie View A&M continued to cut into the Owls’ lead with a 13-6 run to start the fourth period behind three steals by senior guard Tori Carter. Rice’s offense failed to execute as it did in the first half, as the team shot only 3-of-11 from the field and 0-of-3 from 3-point range. Additionally, the Owls committed seven turnovers in the period, leading to seven points by Prairie View A&M. It took a three-and-a-half minute stretch of defensive intensity from Rice at the end of the game to close out the 11-point victory.
Langley said while she was disappointed in her team for committing 23 turnovers, the Owls are capable of improving their ball security.
“We have been blessed with a phenomenal scout team composed of some of the guy students on campus,” Langley said. “They are helping us learn how to deal with pressure and hang tough. We have been doing really well in practice and I think we will improve quickly.”
After starting all 31 games last year as a sophomore, Rainey also said she was confident in the team’s progress and potential moving forward.
“We have adapted to the coaching style and began to implement a culture that the coaches have encouraged,” Rainey said. “Tonight showed us we are capable of winning and what it means to win. While it is a relief, we have to continue to move forward and keep working hard.”