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Women's basketball wins three of past four games

By Teddy Grodek     11/29/11 6:00pm

After a disappointing 1-2 start, the much-lauded women's basketball team finally started playing up to its potential on its recent trip to Chicago before coming back to Tudor Fieldhouse.

In her return trip to Chicago, senior point guard D'Frantz Smart recorded five points, five assists, four rebounds and eight steals, leading the Owls to a 77-50 victory at Chicago State University. Smart, who went to Chicago's Whitney Young High School, dished most of her assists to sophomore forward Jessica Kuster, who recorded 29 points and 16 rebounds in the win. The win brought the Owls back to .500 for the year.

The next Tuesday, the Owls took on Valparaiso University to finish the road trip, winning 54-46 after surviving a last minute charge from the Crusaders to win their second straight road game.

Rice was up 13 points heading into the second half. Valpo held Rice to 11 points in the first 15 minutes of the second half, bringing the score within six points. With only five minutes left, a Valpo 3-pointer cut the Rice lead to three.

Smart had two straight buckets to give the Owls the go-ahead lead. One more basket from Kuster left the final score at 54-46.

Kuster had one of her worst games of the year so far, scoring only 15 points with 11 rebounds. Freshman forward Christal Porter pulled down 12 boards for the Owls, and Smart had 10 points.

The next week, the Owls came back to Tudor, looking to match some of their success on the road. They played a struggling Alcorn State University team, who was winless heading into the game.

Kuster cruised in the game, scoring 29 points, one of her best games of the season.

Rice had its most free throw attempts ever due to Alcorn State's physical play.

"I was proud of our team because it was a physical game, and at halftime, I said it would be another 20 minutes, but we can't back down," said Head Coach Greg Williams. "We have to stay tough and strong, and in the past, we struggled in games like this."

Rice closed the first half with a 13-5 run led by junior guard Jessica Goswitz, who recorded seven of the 13 points. Alcorn State closed the lead to four in the second half until Rice answered with another big 16-2 run, putting the game away by a final score of 74-57.

Last Monday, the worst happened to the Owls, as Kuster was forced to leave the game in the second half with an unknown foot injury. The University of Arkansas at Little Rock won the low scoring game, but more concern is over the injury.

Rice came out in a full-court press, with both teams having trouble scoring. Kuster only had six points when she was forced to leave the game.

Rice, which shot 23 percent in the first half, simply could not score. A run after the Kuster injury cut the lead to nine, but UALR responded, going on a 9-1 run of their own.

Rice never recovered, eventually losing the game by a final score of 67-47.

The Houston Chronicle's Joseph Duarte reports that Kuster is out indefinitely with the foot injury, as she was seen on crutches at practice.

The Owls will certainly have to find someone to fill the void if she is out for any prolonged period of time, as Kuster is averaging 19.9 points and 13.1 rebounds over the season. This is the right time for an injury, however, as after this weekend's home tournament, the Owls have a nice, long break for her to heal up.

Tonight, the Owls take on Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi in the Gene Hackerman Invitational. Depending on whether they win or lose, they'll play either Oregon State University or the University of North Texas tomorrow.

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