With standout performances from senior forward Jasmine Goodwine and sophomore guard Lauren Grigsby, the Rice women’s basketball team won the quarterfinal game of the Women’s Basketball Invitational on Sunday afternoon. With the 73-63 victory over the University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley, the Owls will advance to the tournament semifinal. Head coach Tina Langley said she was impressed by the attitude of the team in their win.
“I think these young ladies love playing together, and I think you could really see that today on the court,” Langley said. “It’s a team that’s really found their groove this postseason and is enjoying this ride together.”
The win marks the 20th of the season for Rice. It is the first time the Owls have reached that mark since the 2004-05 season. After making it to the quarterfinal of the Conference USA tournament, Rice qualified for their 11th postseason appearance in the program’s history. They now have two WBI appearances, seven Women’s National Invitational Tournament appearances and two NCAA tournament appearances.
The Owls started slow in the quarterfinal match, falling into an early 9-0 deficit in the first quarter. According to Langley, it was energy on the defensive end that ultimately got the Owls back into the game.
“We worked really hard after the last game to pick up our defensive intensity,” Langley said. “Once we were able to do that we were able to have a little more success.”
Rice outscored UT Rio Grande Valley 26-14 in the second quarter to get back into the game, and then followed up by outscoring them 26-16 in the third quarter. These two strong quarters gave the Owls a 19-point advantage, and at 62-43 heading into the final quarter, Rice successfully closed out the game with a win.
Goodwine, who is Rice’s leading scorer for the season, recorded a double-double in the game with 23 points and 14 rebounds while shooting 9 of 16 from the field. It was the sixth double-double on the season for the All C-USA Second Team forward. In addition, Goodwine had help from Grigsby, who led the Owls in scoring and set a career high with 24 points. Grigsby said she liked the way the team bounced back after the first quarter.
“I was kind of nervous at first because we had a slow start, but I think the team really picked it up and was joined together,” Grigsby said. “I think that’s what put us over the top.”
The Owls won their first round matchup against Lamar University by a score of 73-72. Once again, Goodwine boasted an impressive performance with 21 points on 9 of 12 shooting from the field. The game moved Goodwine into tenth place on Rice’s all time scoring list. Senior guard Maya Hawkins had 14 points, six rebounds and seven assists in the win, while junior guard Shani Rainey had 14 points, five rebounds and five assists. The victory over Lamar gave the Owls their first postseason victory since 2006. Langley said she was impressed with the team’s attitude and work ethic throughout the season.
“One of our core values is unity and I think that these ladies represent that every day no matter what their minutes are,” Langley said. “As they continue to work hard and we continue to play, they will continue to reap the benefits of all that hard work. I’m really proud for them.”
Rice will play in the WBI semifinal game on Thursday, March 23. They will look to pick up yet another victory on the season and advance to the WBI championship game for the first time in school history.