Rice women’s basketball was upset in their opening game of the Conference USA Tournament, falling to 6-Seed UTSA in Frisco.
After earning a first round bye, Rice Women’s Basketball took the court on Wednesday afternoon against UTSA looking to punch their ticket to the semifinals. Things were tenuous early on, with both teams struggling from the field in the first quarter. Rice would hit two free throws to end the first frame before they really found their groove.
The second quarter was almost entirely all Owls. Rice scored the first 12 points of the frame, opening up a 15-point lead against the No. 6 seeded Roadrunners. The Owls held their opponents to 14.3 percent shooting from the floor in the quarter, winning the battle on the boards 16-8 and controlling the tempo throughout.
Up by 12 at the half, it looked like Rice had a golden opportunity to put the game away when UTSA leading scorer Jordyn Jenkins hit the bench with four fouls midway through the third quarter. It never materialized. Rice couldn’t get into a rhythm on offense and UTSA stuck around. Despite the lull, Rice still led at the five-minute mark of the fourth quarter.
Entering Thursday, Rice was 20-0 when leading with five minutes left in the game. They’re 20-1 now after Jenkins returned to the game and spurred a 28-point quarter, UTSA’s largest output in a single quarter this season. While the Roadrunners heated up, the Owls wilted, ending a largely positive regular season in disappointing fashion.
Final Box | UTSA 62 – Rice 54
FINAL | UTSA 62 – @RiceWBB 54
Owls are upset in Frisco. pic.twitter.com/hbTzFScvmJ
— The Roost (@AtTheRoost) March 9, 2023
Key takeaway | Not destiny
What head coach Lindsay Edmonds was able to accomplish down the stretch given her lineup constraints was impressive. Rice played significant portions of February without at least one of Malia Fisher, Ashlee Austin, Destiny Jackson or Trinity Gooden available. Jackson couldn’t go on Thursday and her absence was felt, particularly in the fourth quarter when it seemed no one else was able to create their own opportunities.
Rice managed to lose just two games with that fluctuating roster throughout the month of February. Unfortunately, they lost their last one in March, and that’s the one that mattered most. Depth matters, but difference-makers do, too. UTSA’s Jordyn Jenkins drove that point home with a game-high 22-points on Thursday.
Up Next | ???
It probably would have taken a stronger run through the Conference USA Tournament for Rice women’s basketball to have qualified for the WNIT. It’s possible the WBI is still in play, though. That’s scheduled to host eight teams from March 16 to March 19.
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