Women's basketball is edged out by Houston
With only one game this weekend, the Rice Owls had a lot of time to prepare for the arrival of the University of Houston Cougars to Tudor Fieldhouse this past Sunday. Coming off their first win in quite a while, the Owls were hoping to use their victory against the University of Alabama, Birmingham, as a stepping stone to leave the basement of the conference standings. Unfortunately, the Cougars had other plans.
Houston has played a streaky season all year, with stretches when it looked unstoppable and stretches when it was self-destructive. Redshirt senior Porsche Landry, one of Conference USA's best players, has averaged 17 points a game, and Houston's results have been based largely on her play.
Rice played a solid first half, holding Houston to only 24 points with strong defense. The Owls had trouble scoring during stretches but still led 31-24 heading into the locker room. They shot 30 percent from the feudal but missed all six of their 3-point attempts, scoring most of their points in the paint.
Rice came out of the locker room and continued opening up its lead. The Owls were up 14 points with 14 minutes left in the game but began slipping and shooting poorly.
With two minutes left and Rice up three, Houston had the ball and found its star player. Like leaders do, Landry hit the big shot, tying the game with a 3-ball. After a wasted Owls possession the next time down the floor, Houston responded with another 2-point shot which be- came the game-winner.
Rice took one last shot at the buzzer, but the 3-pointer did not fall, giving the Cougars the vic- tory. Rice ended up shooting under 30 percent in the second half on its home floor - not a combination that will help a team win basketball games. In the end Houston prevailed and won 53-51 in an incredibly close game.
Junior forward Jessica Kuster had a standout game for the Owls, adding 22 points and 15 rebounds in the loss. THe 15 rebounds moved her into third place all-time for the Owls, and the 22 points moved her into eighth all-time in scoring.
Kuster outscored Landry, who had 17 points but hit the big shots when the Cougars needed them.
"Give Houston credit, they fought back, "Head Coach Greg Williams said. "[Landry] had a great second half; we struggled to guard her, and she stepped up."
This next week, the Owls travel to both games, with a Thursday night contest in New Orleans against Tulane University and a game in Oklahoma against the University of Tulsa.
Rice lost to Tulane earlier in the season but squeaked by Tulsa earlier in the year at home, giving the Owls hopes for another split. After this road trip, Rice's next week of games will be at home.
Tulane is currently tied for second in C-USA, while Tulsa is in the middle of the pack with a winning percentage below .500.
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