WBB splits weekend road trip at Charlotte, UAB
Last week, the Rice women’s basketball team flew east for a two-game road trip. Their first stop was a visit to the reigning Conference USA champions, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where they lost 66-61. For the second leg of their trip, the Owls took on the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where they bounced back from Thursday’s loss with a 67-57 victory over the Blazers. After the trip, head coach Lindsay Edmonds was pleased with how the team was able to bounce back on Saturday after Thursday’s loss.
“[Saturday was] a great overall team win and everybody did some great things,” Edmonds said. “We kept battling and we found a way to get a win on the road. We showed resilience to bounce back and get a win on the road after dropping one on Thursday.”
At Charlotte, the Owls went into halftime with a three point lead, but the 49ers bounced back in the second half with a 13-1 run to start the third quarter. The Owls, fueled by three clutch and-ones from senior guard Destiny Jackson in the fourth quarter, were able to cut the 49ers lead to one, but were unable to flip the score and fell by five. Despite the loss, Edmonds was happy with the team’s toughness in taking a strong conference opponent to the well.
“I think our group is a very tough group,” Edmonds said. “We don’t back down or get scared by an opponent that we are facing. We are focusing on being the best team that we can be day by day and trying to ensure we are playing our best basketball come tournament time.”
Jackson’s 10-point fourth quarter was the back end of a 18 point, eight rebound performance. According to Edmonds, Jackson’s impact goes well beyond the filled stat sheet, putting pressure on the opposing guards on the defensive end and running the offense at the point.
“DJ is a vital part to our success [because] she is the heartbeat of our team,” Edmonds said. “When DJ is playing aggressively on the offensive end of the floor I really like our chances to win the game. Not only is she a great scorer herself but when she is pushing pace and tempo for us it allows her to create easy opportunities for others as well.”
On Saturday, the Owls went back and forth in the first half against a last place UAB team. However,in the third quarter, Rice found themselves down 12 with 16 minutes to go in the game. But an 18-6 Owl run, sparked by a 10 point quarter from freshman guard Jazzy Owens-Barnett who had a career high 17 points on the night, closed out the third quarter. Edmonds had high praise for her freshman guard, who brought energy off the bench.
“Jazzy coming off the bench was unbelievable on both sides of the ball,” Edmonds said. “Defensively she was slowing down [Denim] DeShields, who is a great player, and offensively she was the spark that we needed.”
In the fourth quarter, the Owls were able to ward off the Blazers’ attacks and went a perfect 9-9 from the free throw line to put away the game. Edmonds said that the team’s grit and determination was what secured them the win.
“Today was about toughness,” Edmonds said. “We challenged them after the [game] Thursday night to come out and play with desperation to get a win. We could have been hanging our heads because we were down and [UAB] started out hot in the third quarter, but we just found a spark and just kept going and were tough.”
The Owls now sit at 5-5 in conference play and hold the fourth seed in the conference with ten games remaining on their schedule. Their next matchup is a rematch against Louisiana Tech University. In the first meeting, the Owls fell 74-79 but now will take them on at home. In order to rebound from their slow start to the season, Edmonds said the Owls just need to be themselves.
“I think we just need to continue to focus on us,” Edmonds said. “Focus on being the best team that we can be every time we take the floor, playing with high energy for four quarters, turning the page quickly if something doesn’t go our way, being locked in to our defensive game plan for 40 minutes so that there are minimal mistakes, all of which we are fully capable of doing.”
“UAB just really struggled to guard her. She was a very big reason as to why we won on Saturday.”
The Owls now sit at 5-5 in conference play and hold the fourth seed in the conference with ten games remaining on their schedule. Their next matchup is a rematch against Louisiana Tech University on Thursday. In the first meeting between the two teams, the Owls fell 74-79 but now will take on the Lady Techsters at Tudor Fieldhouse. The game tips off at 7 p.m.
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