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Women's basketball drops two straight

By Teddy Grodek     2/7/12 6:00pm

After three straight conference wins, things looked good for the Owls. They had some momentum, won some road games and were in the top few spots in the conference. Then they traveled to West Virginia, where it felt like everything came apart.

"We did get off to a sluggish start which is the worst formula you can have playing on the road against a team that had lost five straight and was hungry for a win," Head Coach Greg Williams said.

Marshall University (13-9, 4-5 C-USA), which got off to a 17-2 lead, never really lost control of the game. The Owls headed into the locker room down 36-25. With seven layups in the first half and a shooting percentage up around 50 percent, Marshall simply dominated the opening 20 minutes.



Marshall stormed out of the locker room in the second half, going on a 7-2 run. Things looked bleak at the time, but Rice dug out a little bit of gusto and tried to battle back.

A clutch three-pointer and a small Rice run left the score at 55-48 with only a few minutes left. The comeback stalled there, as Marshall hit its free throws down the stretch to win the game.

Junior guard Jessica Kuster recorded her 10th double-double in the loss, with senior guard D'Frantz Smart scoring 15 points.

The following Sunday, the Owls returned home, taking on the conference-leading University of Texas at El Paso (20-2, 9-0 C-USA). UTEP, which is widely expected to win the regular season Conference USA crown, was looking to continue its undefeated streak inside the conference.

Rice started out strong at home, going up five in the first few minutes of the half. The team cooled down shooting, though, after that first hot streak, shooting only 20 percent by the end of the half.

Rice simply was getting out-bodied; as by the end of the game UTEP scored 16 more points than the Owls in the paint.

Despite the turmoil and the low shooting percentage, Rice went into the locker room up one after an outstanding defensive half. The score was 21-20, with the 20 points being one of the lowest totals of the season for UTEP in a half.

The teams battled the entire first half of the second half, with UTEP going on a 6-0 run in the closing minutes. Rice tied the contest with five minutes left, but UTEP's Gloria Brown, one of the best players in C-USA, scored the next three baskets to go up six.

Sophomore forward Jessica Kuster sanka shot to cut the lead to four, but the Owls' scoring would stop – leaving the Owls four points short of one of the biggest upsets in the conference.

Kuster led the way with 11 points and eight rebounds, second in the game only to Gloria Brown.

This weekend ,the Owls stay at home, taking on .500 University of Tulsa (10-11, 5-5 C-USA) on Sunday. Tulsa, who has had just as streaky of a season as the Owls, will be a key game for Rice.



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