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Women's basketball gets hit by Hurricane

By Teddy Grodek     1/17/12 6:00pm

For years, sports fans have tried to explain why it's so much easier to win at home. The rims are still as high and the free-throw line is just as far as away, but there is just something about playing in your home gym that makes it easier to score points.

The Owls basketball team took advantage of its home game this past week against one of Conference USA's top teams, beating a good Tulane University team by a final score of 67-49 at Tudor Fieldhouse. Tulane, last year's regular season and tournament champions, was one of the favorites to repeat this season.

Brianna Hypolite, the senior forward, put the team on her back, scoring 25 points, her second-highest total for the season.

Rice played well in the first half, a trend for the team at home, leading by a 34-19 margin heading into the locker room. It scored the last 10 points to close the first half out.

The slaughter only continued into the second half, with Rice going on an 11-4 run and essentially sealing the game in the opening minutes. Head Coach Greg Williams went deep into his bench in the win, with 11 players seeing minutes.

Hypolite has stepped into the void left by injured forward Jessica Kuster, helping to provide the Owls with a reliable scorer – something that the team has missed at times this season. Hypolite's ability to shoot the three-ball is especially dangerous to opposing defenses.

"Brianna has always been a great open-court player. She's really exciting to watch with the ball in her hand," Williams said. "This year she's really worked hard on that outside shot. She probably plays more basketball over the summer than anyone else on our team."

The following Sunday, the team traveled to Tulsa, Okla. to take on the Golden Hurricanes of the University of Tulsa. A .500 team so far this season, the Golden Hurricane's season had many of the up-and-downs that the Owls had faced so far.

The Owls struggled with shooting in the first half (a common road trend), converting only 23 percent of their shots from the field. The Golden Hurricane held the lead from tip-off until the end of the half, heading to the locker room with a 23-18 lead.

Despite a five-point Rice run at the end of the first half, the Owls lost their momentum, letting Tulsa go on a 15-0 run to put the game away. Poor shooting continued to plague the Owls, who shot only 26 percent in the second half, effectively ending their chances. They had little rhythm in the second half, eventually losing the game 69-42.

"We had some trouble with scoring on the road," Williams said. "The formula for success is usually win all the home games and split the road games. We're 2-0 at home, but 0-2 on the road – we need to get some road games."

Yesterday, the Owls traveled to Florida to take on the University of Central Florida – a team that's been struggling as of late. Much like the Owls, UCF has had trouble breaking the .500 mark this season, a disappointment for a team with high expectations.

Sunday, one of the worst teams in C-USA travels to Houston, as the University of Southern Mississippi looks to get its first conference win. The Golden Eagles, who have struggled mightily since starting C-USA play, lost to a 2-14 University of Houston team by seven points two weeks ago.

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