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Women's basketball gears up for rivarly game against UTEP

By Teddy Grodek     1/23/13 6:00pm

Since the Owls first received their Conference USA schedule, this past week has been circled as one they knew was going to be difficult. Tulane University, currently in third place in the conference, visited Tudor Fieldhouse, followed by a road trip to Dallas to take on conference leader Southern Methodist University. Both teams had more than 10 victories already this season.

A good weekend could have moved the Owls ahead in the standings and proved to everyone in the league that the Owls were a force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately, that is not what happened. Against Tulane, the Owls started out hot (a trend at Tudor) but gave ground back in the closing minutes of the first half (another trend at Tudor). By the end of the first half, Tulane had a lead it did not give back.

Rice stayed with Tulane for the entire second half but could not ever really challenge the Green

Wave when the game got tight. Rice, down three and on the free-throw line with seconds to play, intentionally missed the shot hoping to pull down the rebound. It failed to bring the ball in, and Tulane closed the game down with a free throw on the other end. The final score was 69-65.

Four Owls scored more than 10, with Christal Porter leading the way with 17 points and nine rebounds. Forward Jessica Kuster was next on the list with 15 points.

Despite the loss, Head Coach Greg Williams was proud of his team's effort. "It was a disappointing loss, a tough loss," Williams said. "I thought we played hard."

The next game, on Jan. 20 against SMU, left Rice reeling.

"We're struggling right now, and we know that," Williams said. "We need to get back into our defensive mindset."

Rice kept the game close at the start, but an 8-0 run put Rice in a deficit it could never close. A 4031 score at halftime only got worse in the second half. SMU's first three makes after the locker room were all 3-pointers. Rice eventually fell 73-51.

Kuster led the Owls with 16 points and five rebounds, with Porter scoring 14 points for her third consecutive game of at least 10 points.

This next week, Rice hosts the University of Texas, El Paso, which is the defending C-USA champion and is currently receiving national votes in the top 25. UTEP will be one of the Owls' most difficult games this season and a potential massive upset.

The Owls then travel to the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, which has struggled as of late within C-USA play. It has 10 wins this season but did not play the most challenging of nonconference schedules. This could potentially be a needed break after a difficult UTEP game.

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