Rice women’s basketball dug deep and found a way to win at home, holding on down the stretch to top Louisiana Tech for the Owls’ first C-USA win.
Seeking their first Conference USA win of head coach Lindsay Edmon’s tenure, Rice women’s basketball showed no signs of weariness following last week’s four-overtime loss at Charlotte. Even with their short bench, the time off looked to give the Owls enough time to capture their collective breath, rest and attack their next opponent with intensity, giving Louisiana Tech all they could handle for 40 minutes and walking away victorious.
“I’m just so happy for this team,” head coach Lindsay Edmonds said. “We went through a lot. We’ve had adversity with injuries, with COVID, with low numbers. And with the four-overtime game this past weekend we could have easily came in here feeling ‘Woe is me, we’re 0-5’ and just not performed the way that we did. I am just so proud of their effort. I am so proud of them coming in tonight and competing the way they did and being rewarded for their efforts.”
As they’ve proven accustomed to in recent weeks, Rice started fast, making three of their first five shots on their way to an 11-4 lead. Louisiana Tech would battle back, tying the game up at 16 apiece by the time the first quarter ended. Things stayed close for the early portions of the second period until the Owls ripped off a 16-4 run. They’d double up the Lady Techster’s in the second quarter 24-12 on their way to a 12-point halftime advantage.
Staked to a double-digit lead, Rice women’s basketball was now tasked with doing something they’d yet to do this year: close out a conference win. Both teams traded buckets in the third quarter, splitting points 18-18. Neither team hit more than two shots from the floor before the other answered. That brought both teams to the fourth quarter and Rice 10 minutes away from an important milestone.
Edmonds relayed this message to the team in those final minutes: “Basketball is a game of runs. There’s always going to be runs. You’re hoping that your the team that makes the most runs. I think LA Tech made a little bit of a run there and we needed to get stops,” she said. “That was basically what my message was: get stops.”
Things would get higher than Rice would have hoped for, but for every run, the Owls had a stop and an answer. Louisiana Tech was able to get the game within four points before Malia Fisher hit a layup and Ashlee Austin drained a pair of free throws and a jumper to quell the rally. Louisiana Tech would get back within five in the final minute but Rice hit was sturdy enough from the charity stripe and was able to seal the win.
The milestone did not go noticed. “This team has been through a lot. We’ve faced a lot of adversity,” guard Ashlee Austin said after the game. “We really bounced back. Today we played as a team.”
Player Spotlight | Ashlee Austin
Austin led all players in scoring despite playing just 27 minutes, the fewest of any of the Owls’ five starters. Although she admitted to feeling the effects of the extended outing against Charlotte, she showed no signs of wear against Louisiana Tech. When the team needed to dig deep, she was there. She scored 27 points, added five rebounds had one assist and four blocks.
Stat Corner | Get to the stripe
Rice women’s basketball was far from perfect from the free throw line on Thursday night, but their aggressive to get themselves the extra shots paid off in a big way. Rice attempted 30 free throws to Louisiana Tech’s 16. The Owls would make 22 of those, providing them just enough of a cushion down the stretch to secure their first C-USA win of the season.
Final Box | Rice 72 – LA Tech 64
FINAL | @RiceWBB 72 – LA Tech 64
— The Roost (@AtTheRoost) January 28, 2022
Up Next | Full Schedule
Rice women’s basketball has one more home game left on the schedule this weekend before making their first three-game road trip of the season next week. They’ll start at UTSA on Thursday before venturing to UTEP for a Saturday contest. The Owls close the trip out with a game at North Texas the following Thursday.
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