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Women's basketball takes down Tulsa, 56-53

By Teddy Grodek     1/16/13 6:00pm

Things were merrier in 2012 for the Rice women's basketball team than in 2013 so far. After a long Winter Break home stand, the Owls lost their first game of the new year to 37th ESPN ranked Texas A&M University team, ending a five-game winning streak. The team then opened Conference USA play with a fall to Eastern Carolina University before rebounding with a victory against a bottom-of-the pack University of Tulsa team.

The Owls went down quickly against A&M, which started the game on a 27-9 run. The Owls closed the gap at halftime only to have A&M open the lead back up. The Owls lost by a final score of 80-57. Junior forward Jessica Kuster led the way with 18 points and eight assists for the Owls.

Rice, which has traditionally had trouble playing on the road, started the C-USA season against ECU in Greenville, N.C. The Pirates, who played well in the non-conference portion of their season, are one of the favorites to compete for the C-USA crown.

ECU started off hot, going on a 10-0 run to start the game. Rice only shot 29 percent from the field in the first half and did not score a single 3-point bucket. They were down 15 points headed into halftime.

Rice battled the second half but fell well short of closing the gap, losing 60-41. Sophomore guard Maya Adetula led the team with 10 points off the bench in only 13 minutes of play. The Rice starters contributed only 20 points in the contest.

Against Tulsa this past Sunday at Tudor Fieldhouse, the Owls had a much better start. They jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the game forcing an early Tulsa timeout, then opened up the lead to 17-8 before Tulsa came roaring back.

Tulsa, after a plethora of lead changes, eventually took a four-point lead with three minutes left in the first. After Rice made a basket, the Owls headed into halftime down two.

With only minutes to go, the game was still a one-possession game. Freshman forward Megan Palmer hit a jump shot with three minutes left. Tulsa had a chance to tie on the next possession, but let Kuster get around the ball, resulting in a turnover. Kuster hit a free throw on the other end of the court, sealing the Owls' victory with a final score of 56-53.

"Both teams came in here after losing the opening conference game," Head Coach Greg Williams said. "So it was very important for us to win and protect our home court."

Kuster had her ninth double-double this year, dropping 18 points and 12 rebounds. Sophomore forward Christal Porter recorded her first career double-double, with 11 points and a team-high 15 rebounds. Sophomore forward Nakachi Maduka, getting a start after her previous team high in points, had 13 on five rebounds.

The Owls look forward to a home game against Tulane University before hitting the road and taking on Southern Methodist University. Both teams already have 10 wins this season, making this one of the Owls' most difficult weeks of conference play.

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