Rice women’s basketball built a huge lead against UAB and held on, weathering a late rally from the Blazers to secure the win at home.
Playing without Malia Fisher once again, Rice women’s basketball was a bit slow out of the gates on Thursday night against UAB, falling behind 12-4 before things started clicking on both sides of the court. India Bellamy and Katelyn Crosthwait would revive the offense, scoring 13 of the Owls’ 15 points and 23 of their first 34.
It was the Owls’ defense that made the defense in the second quarter, holding the Blazers to just seven points in the frame. UAB shot 11 percent in the quarter, turned the ball over four times and was outscored by 12, further cemented by a defensive stand at the buzzer to enable Rice to maintain a nine-point lead, their largest of the game to that point. It would grow from there, but the game wouldn’t end as comfortably as the Owls might have hoped.
Rice led by 17 at the conclusion of the third quarter. By the time the clock had ticked down below two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Rice lead was just three points. UAB outscored Rice 22-10 in the last quarter, but couldn’t get any of their potential game-tying threes to fall before Destiny Jackson hit a jumper to push the Rice lead back to two possessions in the final seconds and Ashlee Austin secured one more rebound to secure the win.
The victory keeps Rice (10-7) in the running for a first round bye in the conference tournament with a multi-game lead over North Texas (8-10) and three regular season games remaining.
Final Box | Rice 63 – UAB 58
— The Roost (@AtTheRoost) February 24, 2023
Key takeaway | Depth matters
Last season, Rice women’s basketball manufactured an incredible late-season run on the backs of six or seven healthy players. Two of the pillars of that successful run were Malia Fisher and Ashlee Austin. That tandem hasn’t seen meaningful time on the court at the same time since February 4. The Owls are 4-1 since then, missing Austin for two games by coach’s decision and Fisher for three because of injury.
India Bellamy has stepped up in a big way, including a career day last Saturday against Western Kentucky, but it has truly been a collective effort from a host of Owls to maintain their momentum despite not playing at full strength.
“The ones that are stepping on the court and playing minutes, they’re playing a lot of minutes, but they’re getting the job done,” head coach Lindsay Edmonds said. The depth is the reason we’ve been able to win some games this year that we wouldn’t have won last year. I like our depth. I like the versatility that we have. I think a lot of people can step up and do great things for us.”
Up Next: vs Charlotte – Saturday, Feb. 25 at 2:00 p.m.
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