Rice Women’s Basketball was forced to battle for a full 40 minutes, but the Owls left Tudor Fieldhouse with a hard-fought win over UAB.
Following an 0-5 start to conference play, Rice women’s basketball had just started to settle into a rhythm, earning at least a split of games over two consecutive weekends before falling to North Texas twice in four days. Seeking to get back on the right foot, the Owls opened their current homestand with a hard-fought victory over the UAB Blazers.
Rice scored first and shot well from the field early, but UAB had an answer for seemingly every basket the Owls sunk. A 12-3 Rice run in the first quarter expanded their lead to as many as six, but they’d end the first quarter with only a two-point lead despite shooting 50 percent from the floor.
Last Time Out: Rice Women’s Basketball drops two-game set against UNT
UAB would push ahead early in the second quarter, but the margin never grew beyond four points in favor of either side. The Blazers spread their points around. The Owls saw contributions from a group of shooters as well, but it was the sharp shooting of Maya Bokunewicz that made the difference. Her step-back three gave Rice a 40-39 lead at halftime, proving an exclamation point for her 17-point first-half performance.
Rice was able to extend that lead in the third quarter, stretching it to eight points on a step-back jumper from Ashlee Austin which put Rice up 55-47. It was at that point the Owls seemed to have established themselves in the driver’s seat only to watch UAB storm back and tie the game back up at 65 midway through the fourth quarter.
“A lot of our games are going to come down to wire,” head coach Lindsay Edmonds said in the aftermath. “We have to be better in those moments, myself included.”
Said with the memory of fourth quarters that didn’t go the Owls’ way, Edmonds and company settled down and locked in. The game would come down to fouls and free throws in the final seconds. In need of one last surge, the Owls got it done with two free throws from Bokunewicz to ice the win.
Player Spotlight | Maya Bokunewicz
Bokunewicz redshirted last season before becoming a fixture in the Rice women’s basketball starting lineup in her second campaign on South Main. Before Thursday, her career-best game had come on the road against Middle Tennessee on January 7 when she scored a career0high 20 points and added five rebounds. She entered the starting lineup the following game and has been there ever since.
She scored 17 points in the first half against UAB, finishing with 19 points and eight rebounds. She credited the big game with more confidence in her shot, saying she’s “definitely slowed down and just kind of gotten into a rhythm with the game.”
Stat Corner | 58%
When asked about Bocunewicz’s scoring outburst, Edmonds mentioned a conversation she’d had with the redshirt freshmen in the preseason in which Bocunewicz had admitted to being reluctant to shoot three-pointers. Edmonds told the young guard to get comfortable. “I love the three,” Edmonds said recalling that conversation.
On Thursday. Bocunewicz was 3-of-5 from three and the Owls connected on 58 percent of their shots from deep. Those early three kept Rice in the game. The late triples helped them put it away.
Final Box | Rice 81 – UAB 76
— The Roost (@AtTheRoost) February 18, 2022
Up Next | Full Schedule
Rice women’s basketball won’t have much of a reprieve before they meet UAB on the court once again. The Owls host FIU on Saturday but make the trip to Birmingham to play the Blazers on Monday, Feb. 21. They will finish that road trip the following weekend with games at Louisiana Tech on Thursday, Feb. 24 and Southern Miss on Saturday, Feb. 26.
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