Rice women’s basketball fought hard, but couldn’t overcome the size and physicality of Oregon, falling to the Ducks in the second round of the WNIT.
Oregon landed the first blow in their second round WNIT matchup with Rice women’s basketball, knocking down a trio of three-pointers in the first three minutes of action to take an 11-3 home lead. Trailing in a hostile road environment, Rice remained poised and battled back, chipping away at the deficit to take their first lead of the night on their first shot of the second quarter.
From that point on, the back-and-forth commenced. The lead changed six times in the second quarter as the stingy Rice defense forced several turnovers, balancing out an uneven shooting performance that produced just a 33 percent clip from the field in the first half.
Oregon’s length and physicality continued to pose problems for Rice as the game progressed. The Ducks took advantage of a lightly-whistled game and worked the Owls from the inside out. As the Rice shots kept missing, Oregon exploded on a 23-9 run in the third quarter. The fourth quarter was all Oregon, too, overwhelming Rice with smothering defense until the Owls ran out of gas.
Rice shot 27.4 percent from the field, by far their worst shooting performance of the season. The previous low came on Jan. 11 against Middle Tennessee, 32.7 percent. Oregon picked up nine blocks and altered many more shots. They kept the Owls out of sync and eventually wore them down, securing the win with breathing room down the stretch.
Final Box | Oregon 78 – Rice 53
— The Roost (@AtTheRoost) March 21, 2023
Key takeaway | Close
Rice women’s basketball played four Power 5 opponents this season: Texas A&M, TCU, BYU and Oregon. Three of those games were played away from home. Rice went 3-1 in those contests.
Four games do not a season make, but that sample paints a compelling picture of the type of team Rice has become, largely because the two pairs of games took place almost three months apart. Destiny Jackson, Malia Fisher and Trinity Gooden started the games against Texas A&M and TCU. None of those three started against BYU or Oregon.
Injuries have forced head coach Lindsay Edmonds to adjust, that’s true, but she’s also proven herself brave enough to tinker with a good thing in search of something better. Rice has continued to evolve from the team that struggled through a 1-4 start in conference play to the current iteration that’s won six of its last eight in the most important month of the season.
The first three weeks of conference play represented arguably the only subpar stretch of basketball this team played all season. Rice women’s basketball finished 23-9, which is a hair behind the clip of prior teams that made it to the NCAA Tournament or won the NIT. Rice isn’t back to that level yet, but the progression toward that end is clear. So long postseason, Rice women’s basketball will be back.
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