Bellamy’s career night leads WBB past second-place WKU
Courtesy Rice Athletics
With the conference season winding down, the Owls cemented their spot in the top half of Conference USA by taking down second-placed Western Kentucky University on the road.
Following a loss against the University of Texas at San Antonio earlier in the week, the Owls traveled to Bowling Green last Saturday to take on the Hilltoppers of WKU. The Owls were short-handed with their two regular starters, sophomore forward Malia Fisher and sophomore guard Trinity Gooden, unavailable for the game.
Despite the adjustments to their starting lineup, the Owls got off to a fast start and took a 22-16 lead at the end of the first quarter. According to head coach Lindsay Edmonds, she stressed to her team to bring energy from the start before the game.
“We didn’t really make any adjustments on how we wanted to play,” Edmonds said. “We stressed … bringing a ton of energy, making sure that we were all bringing our best to the game, and leaving it all out on the court, because we were missing the two starters.”
The Owls played from ahead against the Hilltoppers and entered halftime with a 37-32 lead. According to Edmonds, her team was able to find success against WKU because of the pace they played with.
“We got off to a really fast start because of our energy and our pace that we were playing,” Edmonds said. “We also established an inside presence very early in the game that allowed us to be successful for most of the game.”
Without Fisher in the starting lineup, senior forward India Bellamy stepped up for the Owls on the interior as she finished with a career-high 27 points on 11 of 12 shooting from the field. According to Bellamy, her post-positioning was key to finding success against WKU’s defense.
“By running the court and not allowing them to be able to set up their defense so quickly allowed me to post up smaller guards and score quicker,” Bellamy said. “This also opened up the court for other players when the defense would collapse on me.”
Among those other players were fellow senior forward Ashlee Austin and senior guard Katelyn Crosthwait. Austin hit two timely back-to-back threes, and Crosthwait found success at the rim to extend the Owls’ lead to 17 at the end of the third quarter. According to Edmonds, Austin and Crosthwait were crucial in the Owls’ success Saturday night.
“[Austin] played with a lot of poise and patience and shot the ball extremely well,” Edmonds said. “I thought [Crosthwait] also played very well. I am sure she would have liked to have seen more of her threes fall, but she did a great job finding other ways to score when the three didn’t fall.”
With a 17-point lead entering the fourth quarter, the Owls cruised to an 82-64 victory over the Hilltoppers as Bellamy continued to ignite Rice’s offense. According to Bellamy, this was a pivotal win for the Owls with postseason play looming.
“We’re approaching the end of the season, where teams are playing their best basketball, and every game is important for postseason play,” Bellamy said. “So it means a lot that we can go play, compete, and beat one of the best teams in our conference to give us confidence as we head to the end of conference play.”
The Owls will look to build off of their win this week at home when they take on the University of Alabama at Birmingham on Thursday night before hosting their senior day against the University of North Carolina at Charlotte on Saturday afternoon.
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