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Williams wins 100th game as women's coach

By Teddy Grodek     2/1/12 6:00pm

If you are going to be a good team, you have to beat the bad teams. That's exactly what the women's basketball team did when it took the floor this past week against two of the worst teams in C-USA, hoping to propel itself above .500 for the season.

It was a big weekend for Head Coach Greg Williams as he searched for two career milestones: his 300th victory in his career and his 100th victory at Rice.

Road wins had been difficult for the team, which had been struggling as of late to beat anyone on the road. After a few heartbreakers, the team looked forward to a home game against East Carolina University (6-14, 0-7 C-USA) and then a practical home game across town against the University of Houston.

Thursday night, en route to 300, the Owls cruised – jumping out to a 16-5 lead. Sophomore Jessica Kuster, who came out hot the week before, led the team with five of those points. The roll continued and the score at halftime was 33-16.

Few inside the gym believed that the Pirates had any chance of coming back;they looked flat in the first half, only shooting 25 percent.

The second half was simply more cruising for Rice, which never let its lead diminish. They ended up winning by a final margin of 66-44. Kuster finished the game with 21 points and seven rebounds, followed by guard senior D'Frantz Smart who had 10.

Coach Williams did not think too long about it being his 300th victory.

"It is nice, but I've been blessed with a lot of great players at Houston, Colorado State and at Rice, and all of the credit in the world goes to the players," Williams said. "All this means is that I have had a lot of great players and have stayed in the business awhile."

The following Saturday the Owls were bussed across town to Hofheinz Pavilion to take on the Lady Cougars of the University of Houston (2-17, 1-6 C-USA). UH, which only had one win in its entire non-conference schedule, is widely considered one of the worst teams in C-USA.

Rice, which scored the first basket, never gave up the lead in the contest. Rice went into the locker room up eight by a 30-22 count.

UH had one last minute run, cutting the lead to single digits. Rice made their free throws once the Cougars started fouling at the end of the game, winning by a 58-50 margin.

Jessica Kuster had her ninth double-double of the season, recording 19 points and 16 rebounds. Junior guard Jessica Goswitz finished with 16 points, her highest total of the season.

The win, Coach Williams' 100th, put the Owls above .500 for the season. It moved them into the top four inside C-USA.

The upcoming week, the Owls play Marshall University (12-8, 3-4 C-USA) in West Virginia – one of their longest road trips of the season – on Thursday. It will be a test of the Owls' ability to travel and play in games they need to keep winning to stay on top of C-USA.

The following Sunday, the Owls take on the University of Texas at El Paso (19-2, 8-0 C-USA) at home, the top team in the conference. UTEP has not lost a game inside C-USA yet and is approaching 20 wins for the season. It will surely be a test of the Owls' hopes for the rest of the season to compete with the Miners.

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