Rice Women’s Basketball trailed for most of the game and did not shoot well at all but the Owls still found a way to take down Southern Miss.
Blisteringly fast starts have been the hallmark of Rice women’s basketball this season. Depth issues and inexperience have made those early leads tenuous at times, but winning the first quarter has never been a serious problem. That’s what made Saturday’s slow start in Hattiesburg so surprising.
Rice shot 14.3 percent from the floor in the first quarter and fell eight points behind Southern Miss 15-7, Trailing by more points than they’d managed to score, the Owls had no choice other than to chip away.
Bolstered by a powerful defensive effort, Rice began their comeback. Southern Miss made two field goals in the second quarter and attempted just seven field goals. They turned the ball over seven times in the frame compared to three turnovers from the Owls, who held the home team without a field goal for more than six consecutive minutes. When the halftime buzzer sounded, it was a one-point game in favor of Southern Miss.
The teams traded baskets in the third quarter but although Rice was able to tie the score twice, they never took the lead, instead allowing Southern Miss to gradually increase the margin to seven points midway through the fourth quarter.
Southern Miss outrebounded Rice 43-41. They outshot the Owls 36.7 percent to 27.9 percent. Through the first 38+ minutes of regulation, Rice never led. But when Malia Fisher secured a putback with 1:12 to play and Destiny Jackson followed with a layup with 18 seconds remaining, none of those numbers mattered.
Rice only led for 42 seconds, but it was the most meaningful 42 seconds of the game. For this shorthanded team to have so much go against them and still find a way to win is absolutely stunning. While it probably won’t move the needle for those outside of South Main, this victory might very well go down as the win of the year.
— Rice Women’s Basketball (@RiceWBB) February 26, 2022
Player Spotlight | Ashlee Austin
On a day when nobody wearing blue and gray could find the basket, Ashlee Austin’s offensive contributions were massive. Austin led both teams with 18 points and added 10 rebounds, including three offensive boards. It was her first career double-double of the season, and every point and rebound was critical to complete the Owls’ thrilling comeback.
Stat Corner | 27.9 Percent
Rice women’s basketball came into this game averaging 40.4 percent shooting from the field on the season. Every team has its good days and its bad days when it comes to shooting, but the Owls had unarguably their worst shooting performance of the season on Saturday against the team atop the C-USA West Standings.
Entering Saturday, the Owls’ worst shooting percentage in a win was 38 percent against Texas Southern on Nov. 17. They hadn’t won a game shooting worst than 30 percent since beating Old Dominion in February of 2019. Rice shot 27.9 percent against Southern Miss. And they won.
Final Box | Rice 51 – Southern Miss 46
FINAL | @RiceWBB 51 – USM 46
— The Roost (@AtTheRoost) February 26, 2022
Up Next | Full Schedule
Rice women’s basketball has two final games remaining on the regular season slate. They will host UTEP on Mar. 3 and then UTSA on Mar. 5, Senior Day. From there, it’s onto the Conference USA Tournament which could start for Rice as early as Tuesday, Mar. 8.