Women's basketball has rough start to season
Despite such high expectations, the women's basketball team got off to a disappointing start, losing their first two games before beating Houston Baptist Univerity Wednesday night in Tudor Fieldhouse.
The season opener, at Prairie View A&M University, was never supposed to be a close game. The Owls, who led for a lot of the game, let Prairie View go on an 11-5 run in the closing minutes to squeak by 61-58. Sophomore forward Jessica Kuster, back after one of the best freshman seasons ever inside C-USA, led the way with 22 points and 18 rebounds. Senior point guard D'Frantz Smart contributed 11 points and four assists to the losing effort.
After the first game against a relatively unknown opponent, the Owls traveled to the Big 12 conference to take on Oklahoma State University. OSU, who is predicted to finish fairly in the middle of the pack in the Big 12, dominated the game.
They zeroed in on Kuster, giving her no room to work with the basketball. The score was a staggering 58-27 at the half, and it looked like Oklahoma State was on pace to score a hundred. The Cowgirls would fall just short, winning by a final score of 96-60. Forward Kendra Suttles led OSU with 27 points.
On Wednesday night, opponent Houston Baptist did not have the same luck that the Cowgirls had with Jessica Kuster, allowing her to score 31 points.
Kuster, who would also record 19 rebounds, led the Owls to a 75-42 win to open the season inside Tudor Fieldhouse. Rice dominated the first half, at one point having a 31-8 lead. In addition to Kuster's second double-double of the year, senior forward Brianna Hypolite added 16 points. Kuster was pleased with the team's performance.
"It was our first first home game and we wanted to show to our fans that we're fun to watch," she said.
The win was much needed for the Owls, who can get back to .500 with tonight's matchup at Chicago State University. The game will mark the return of Smart to her hometown.
The team stays inside the Midwest with a Sunday afternoon game against Valparaiso University. Then they open a home stand with a game against Alcorn State University next Wednesday.
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Most of the way through the 2019 season, I thought that Rice had some of the worst luck in all of college football. Through nine games, the Owls were winless, despite four one-score losses, including an eight-point loss to a Baylor University team that ended the season ranked in the top 15. All signs indicated that the Owls were much better than their 0-9 record and that their bad luck in close games was long overdue to flip. The Owls ended that season with a three-game winning streak, including two one-possession wins, appeared to confirm that theory.
On Saturday, Rice football came back from a ten point deficit in the fourth quarter to defeat Louisiana Tech University 35-31 on Senior Day. The come-from-behind win snapped a four-game losing streak and tallied the Owls fourth win of the season, moving their record to 4-8 and 3-5 in Conference-USA.