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Friday, September 30, 2022 — Houston, TX

Women's basketball wins crucial game at Memphis

By Teddy Grodek     2/17/11 6:00pm

Talking with freshman star forward Jessica Kuster before last weekend, it was no secret that these two Conference USA games were the Owl's most important - and most difficult - of the season. "It's great being one of the best teams in the conference right now, but we have to get wins this next weekend," she said. "It's no secret that [the University of] Houston and [the University of] Memphis are both great teams, and we're going to have to play really well to stay at the top."

The Owls (15-10, 7-4 C-USA) task, to take down two of the top teams in the conference in two road games, was surely a tall one. Having recently moved into a tie for second in C-USA, Rice was hoping to in that spot after the brutal weekend.

Thursday night, the Owls took a trip down the road, taking on the University of Houston (20-4, C-USA 11-0). Houston, a likely NCAA tournament at-large team, has dominated the conference and has been largely unchallenged since their C-USA games have begun.

The Cougars were unstoppable from the beginning, scoring the first eight points off the tip. Rice rebounded and close the gap to two, but Houston would put together another run and ended the half up 29-19, one of the Owl's worst halves of the year. Senior forward Morgan Mayse would actually have 10 of the 14 points headed into the locker room.

The second half was much of the same, as Rice never closed the gap they left in the first half. The Owl's would not make a single three-point shot until the closing minutes. They ended up losing the game by a final of 71-51, certainly not the final score that they were hoping for.

The Owls then traveled to Memphis (18-7, 7-4 C-USA) - one of the other elite C-USA teams - which was hoping to move up in the standings after string of victories.

Rice stumbled out of the gate, much like in the Houston game, going down seven points right from the start. Mayse would get hot however, and would put in 10 points to get Rice back into the game at 16-14. The game ebbed and flowed, with Memphis eventually taking a lead 31-28 going into the locker room.

A few minutes into the second half, Rice caught fire, with Kuster scoring eight points to push the Owls on an 11-0 run. This gave Rice a 53-47 lead. Three straight three-pointers by the Owls would push the game out of reach to a score of 64-55, leaving the Owls still remaining in second place in C-USA.

Junior forward Brianna Hypolite, after a rough Houston game, would lead the Owls with 18 points. Mayse ended up with 15, and Kuster would have her ninth double-double, scoring 15 and pulling down 11 rebounds.

It was another C-USA Freshman of the Week performance for Kuster, who would win her ninth award, increasing her conference record.

This next weekend, the Owls have two very winnable games, welcoming the University of Texas at El Paso into Tudor and then traveling to take on the Southern Miss Golden Eagles.

UTEP (13-10, C-USA 5-6), a team that beat Rice earlier in the season, is looking to climb the rankings looking to earn one of the first round byes in the upcoming conference tournament in El Paso. They are a physical team and beat Rice by over twenty the first time the teams met.

"UTEP was the one team that really got us good this season, it was our worst conference loss," Head Coach Greg Williams said. "It's a tough place to play, but we'll be ready this time at home. UTEP is a good road team, and they haven't lost a conference road game by more than six points this year."

Southern Miss (9-15, C-USA 4-7), a team that played well at the start of the year, is struggling as of late after losing one of the conference's top scorers to a broken hand. If Rice simply shows up to play that night, it should be a fairly easy victory after a tough UTEP game.

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