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Friday, September 30, 2022 — Houston, TX

Out of town, Owls' wings clipped

By Teddy Grodek     2/18/10 6:00pm

The baskets on the women's basketball team's road games are still 10 feet high, just as they are at Tudor Fieldhouse. The courts are still 94 feet long, and there are still five players out on the court for one team at any time. The rules and the dimensions, of course, remain the same. But it sure doesn't always seem so, which is why Head Coach Greg Williams may want to buy a tape measure and a rule book to show any doubting Owls before their next road game. Something, anything, to break the women's road swoon, a run that has seen them tumble to 1-9 in road games, 0-5 in the conference.

"Being a good road team, you have to be focused, and we haven't been," team captain and sophomore point guard D'Frantz Smart said. "The other team is comfortable. It's their rims, their balls, their fans."

And, over the past weekend, it was their game to win.

Last Friday, Rice (11-13, 5-6 Conference USA) traveled to Southern Methodist University, a team the Owls had defeated earlier in the year at Tudor by a slim margin of 61-58.

This time around, however, was a different story. Rice contained SMU (16-7, 6-5 C-USA) for the first few minutes, tying the game at 8-8 five minutes into the first half. Only a few minutes in, and this would be the last time Rice would have a shot at the lead.

SMU limited the Owls' field goal attempts in the first half and kept them off the free-throw line, two things the Owls thrive upon. Rice shot a lowly 24 percent from the field in the first half, which, compared to SMU's 44 percent, would only leave the team with one thing - a disappointing final score.

After leaving the locker room down 31-17, the Owls could do little but sputter and scuffle during the second half, losing with a final score of 73-54.

Losing by nearly 20 points to a team you had previously beaten is bad - but it could have been worse.

"We're lucky things didn't get out of hand quicker in the first half," Williams said. "But in the last 20 minutes, it was much more even. The score doesn't represent the end of the game."

Sophomore forward Jackie Stanley led the way for the Owls with 16 points, with Smart right behind her with 15 points and seven assists. Freshman guard Jessica Goswitz, who had been playing very well up to this weekend, was severely hampered by a lingering ankle injury and played only 11 minutes.

On Sunday, the Owls had to make another road trip, this time to Oklahoma to take on the Golden Hurricane (9-13, 3-8 C-USA), which has struggled this entire year. Rice had beaten them 63-56 when Tulsa visited Tudor Fieldhouse earlier this year.

Much like in the SMU game, the Owls kept the score tight at the beginning, but about halfway through the first half, the wheels began to fall off.

With two minutes left in the first half, Rice was down 10 points. Three-and-a-half minutes into the second half, Rice was down 20.

The lead only got larger as the game wound down, and Rice eventually lost the game with a final score of 80-46.

No Owls hit double figures, as Smart, senior guard Tara Watts and freshman center Opal Taskila led the team with eight points each. Rice did not shoot particularly poorly at 35 percent but was simply limited in their opportunities, getting only 48 shots off in the game.

The best thing the Owls can use to rebound from their second-worst loss of the season is a win, but for that they'll have to conquer their road demons.

Tomorrow, the Owls will once again be on the road, looking to rediscover the success they enjoyed inside C-USA earlier this season. After yesterday's road game against the University of Central Florida (7-13, 4-7 C-USA), they face one of the worst teams in the conference: the University of Southern Mississippi (7-17, 3-8 C-USA), currently below Rice on the conference ladder.

If the Owls can find a way to get it done on the road, they will be vaulted into the upper half of the conference standings once again. If they fall in both games, they will quickly plummet to the cellar of C-USA. The dichotomy is striking, and both of their opponents this weekend will be pivotal tests.

"Both these teams are athletic and got off to a rough start, but are athletic and can make bad things happen quickly," Williams said. "If we had a preseason poll for Conference USA, UCF probably would've been the favorite.

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