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Friday, September 30, 2022 — Houston, TX

Consistency remains fickle for women

By Teddy Grodek     2/11/10 6:00pm

Consistency is one of the main goals of any athletic team. For the women's basketball team, it has been one of the toughest to reach. The Owls (11-11, 5-4 C-USA) have suffered humiliating losses against teams that should have been easy victories, but have simultaneously managed to rally to defeat some of the elite teams of Conference USA.

Despite their back-and-forth play, the Owls still stood on the brink of ushering themselves into the upper echelon of C-USA at the beginning of last week. They had finally battled their way back to the .500 mark and had two critical home games against in-conference rivals that they hoped would push them over the top and earn them the respect they felt they deserved.

The University of Houston was first up, the first C-USA team with a perfect conference road record to play within the confines of Tudor Fieldhouse.



The Owls jumped out of the gate, posting a 9-2 lead with five quick points from senior guard Tara Watts. But the Cougars (12-10, 6-3 C-USA) clawed their way back into the game, tying it up at 14 with 12 minutes left in the first half.

The rest of the half was a battle, as both teams looked for some source of momentum heading into the locker room. In the last six minutes, the two teams scored a combined seven points, as strong defense and poor shooting plagued both benches.

Heading into the second half, though, both teams looked completely different, as Rice failed to gain any form of momentum and quickly ceded a nine-point lead five minutes into the half.

The gap only grew larger, as the Cougars managed to turn a score that was once tied into a 17-point lead with a little over four minutes left in the game. Rice looked stunned and defeated but cut the advantage to 11 points after picking up a full-court press in the closing minutes of the game.

However, by then it was simply too late to make up the deficit - especially after the loss of team leader sophomore point guard D'Frantz Smart to foul trouble. Rice ended up falling by a final margin of 19 points, 72-53.

"[The Cougars] really outplayed us pretty much in the second half," Williams said. "Their two post players took over the game inside and we just didn't respond very well to that. It was certainly a disappointing loss."

Both Smart and sophomore guard Amenemope McKinney ended the game with 11 points. After her blazing start, Watts had trouble rebounding, ending the game with 10 points as she scored only two points in the entire second half.

Throughout the game, Rice had difficulty finding its groove while shooting, managing a dismal 27 percent from the field. The Owls could not reach the free-throw line as frequently as in previous contests, and were out-rebounded over the game by 16.

Heading into Saturday, Rice knew it needed a big performance against the University of Alabama at Birmingham to offset the letdown that came against Houston, and that was just what the team delivered.

The Owls grabbed the lead from the beginning of the game, and while the Blazers (10-11, 4-5 C-USA) cut the lead to two with 12 minutes left in the second half, Rice would never relinquish the advantage over the remainder of the contest.

Leading 41-30 going into halftime, Rice put in a second-half performance that was just in line with the opening half's. When the final buzzer sounded, the Owls had a 72-58 win in their pocket.

Sophomore forward Jackie Stanley led the way for the Owls, scoring 27 points and pulling down 11 rebounds, a welcome sign after struggles with knee issues. Guard Jessica Goswitz posted a 19-point career high, capping a very strong week of play for the freshman.

This game was exactly the form of dominance the Owls needed to regain their confidence after the tough home loss to the Cougars.

"I think the loss really affected us," Goswitz said. "That was our first conference loss at home, so we were really anxious to show what we could do. We really clicked [against UAB]."

Looking forward to this weekend, Rice hits the road, looking to finally get over the .500 hump on which they seem to be stuck. They travel to Southern Methodist University (15-7, 5-4 C-USA) Friday night and hope for a repeat of their 61-58 win from a few weeks ago. Then Rice will travel to the University of Tulsa (7-13, 1-8 C-USA), looking to beat a team that has lost seven of its last eight games.

It has been a struggle for all C-USA teams this season to win on the road - Rice has none under its belt - but Williams hopes his team can change the trend.

"It's proven in our conference that it's much harder to get a win on the road," Williams said. "Your goal has to be to split on the road. If you offer me a split on the road trip, I'm a happy camper.



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