Women’s basketball tops S. F. Austin in back-and-forth season opener
The Rice women’s basketball team defeated Stephen F. Austin State University 89-77 on Thursday to open their season. The Owls’ highest scorer was sophomore forward Malia Fisher, who contributed 18 points and 20 rebounds over the course of the night.
After the game, head coach Lindsay Edmonds said she was proud of her team’s resilience.
“I’m just so proud of our team for our toughness that we had tonight,” Edmonds said. “We withstood some of their runs and we punched right back.”
The Owls scored the first eight points of the night, but the Ladyjacks struck back, pulling ahead to a one-point lead with two minutes and 57 seconds left in the first quarter. The rest of the game followed in waves, with the Owls pulling ahead and the Ladyjacks whittling it down.
The Owls came out of the first half ahead 41-35, a lead that decreased to 2 points going into the 4th quarter after eight field goals and seven made free throws by the Ladyjacks. Yet the Owls pulled ahead for good in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Ladyjacks 29 to 19 behind an 11-point run at 4 minutes left in the game. The Owls had a 38.1 3-point percentage, nearly double the Ladyjacks’ 20.
According to Fisher, the team’s performance has improved from last year.
“It’s amazing, honestly, to see where we came from this time last year,” Fisher said. “As a team we communicate good … we come together in every huddle, [and] we are constantly giving each other constructive criticism.”
One big difference from last year’s team is simply the number of players on the roster. The Owls have 16 players on the 2022-23 season roster, compared to the 12 last season. Edmonds pointed to the Owls’ depth as important to the win, especially considering the number of players in foul trouble.
“I was really worried in the first quarter, we had three [players] pick up two fouls and I was like, ‘Man, how are we going to get through this?’ ” Edmonds said. “But our depth definitely helped us in that. It’s really nice … having a lot of quality players that can step in.”
Edmonds also expressed pride in the performance of the team’s freshman class, led by guards Jazzy Owens-Barnett, who contributed six points and four assists, and Dominique Ennis, who added 12 points in just ten minutes.
“Our freshmen group is really talented,” Edmonds said. “I thought Jazzy had a great first half, she really set the tone and handled the pressure as a freshman point guard against a team that presses all the time. I was very impressed with her composure. Ennis came in at ten minutes and made four [three-pointers]. She did a great job.”
According to Edmonds, the team needs to improve its defense in upcoming games.
“[SFA] scored more than I would like for them to score,” Edmonds said. “Our goal is 60 [points scored by the opposing team] or less … I would like us to be able to defend a little bit better one on one.”
With Sunday’s win against Abilene Christian University, the Owls now hold a 2-0 season record. The Owls’ next game will be an away game against St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas, on Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 10 p.m.
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