It took all four quarters, but Rice women’s basketball was able to outlast SFA in their season opener with superior depth and Malia Fisher’s big game.
On Monday night, Rice women’s basketball was waiting for their season to begin. Meanwhile SFA, the Owls’ first opponent, was notching a season-opening victory over fellow C-USA member UTSA. That was notice enough for the Owls to be ready to battle with the Lady Lumberjacks from tip, and that’s exactly how things transpired at Tudor Fieldhouse on Thursday.
Rice came out ready, scoring eight quick points before SFA was able to battle back and get on the board. From there the game was tied at 10, tied at 12 and tied at 20, all before the first quarter was through. The SFA press made Rice work for every possession.
Malia Fisher hit a floater at the buzzer to close out the first quarter to give Rice some breathing room. The Owls followed with a composed second quarter, slightly lengthening that one-possession lead to a six-point halftime advantage.
The Owls knocked down several foul shots in the process. The lead might have been longer had they been more effective from the charity stripe, converting just 10-of-18 (56 percent) from the line in the first half and 25-of-35 (71 percent) free throws in the game, thanks to a perfect 11-of-11 day at the line from Destiny Jackson.
It was the freshmen who provided the second-half spark. Already buoyed by a strong shooting performance from distance by Dominque Ennis, the Owls got big baskets from Shelby Hayes and Jazzy Owens-Barnett, extending their third-quarter lead to as many as 10 before SFA cut it down to two to start the fourth.
Every time SFA would go on a run, Rice had an answer. And it was usually a different face making the next shot. After working most of last season with eight healthy players, Rice played 10 different players against SFA, eventually outlasting the Lumberjacks thanks to that depth, outscoring SFA 34-19 in bench points.
“That’s a really good basketball team that we just played and they’re gonna win a lot of basketball games,” head coach Lindsay Edmonds said in the aftermath. “But I think it just goes to show how talented we are, how deep we are and how good I think we can be this season.”
Player Spotlight | Malia Fisher
It took less than two quarters for Malia Fisher to notch her first double-double of the season and the ninth of her young career. Fisher led Rice and all Conference USA freshmen in double-doubles last season and is already on pace to do so again.
That wasn’t the only milestone Fisher reached on Thursday night. She became the sixth Owl to reach 20 rebounds in a single game, a number she wasn’t even aware she’d reached until after the game.
“I’ll take that every single night,” Edmonds said in jest as a smile beamed across her face, a fitting end to a hard-fought night that ended just like it was supposed to: with a Rice win.
Final Box | Rice 89 – SFA 77
Final | @RiceWBB 89 – SFA 77
Malia Fisher with her ninth career double-double as the Owls win their season opener. pic.twitter.com/mqFGqF7nhp
— The Roost (@AtTheRoost) November 11, 2022
Up Next | Full Schedule
Rice women’s basketball has one more game at Tudor Fieldhouse before they hit the road for the first time this season. On Sunday, the Owls will host Abilene Christian. Tipoff is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. That game will be streamed on CUSAtv.
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