Rice women’s basketball overcame a slow start, catching fire in the second half behind the masterful shooting performance of Maya Bokunewicz.
It wasn’t the start Rice women’s basketball would have hoped to see on Sunday afternoon. After trading baskets early, Rice fell behind by nine points by the end of the first quarter, committing uncharacteristic penalties and making mental mistakes. Their opponent, Saint Mary’s pushed their advantage to double-digits early in the second quarter, putting the game on the brink of disaster should the Owls not settle down.
Head coach Lindsay Edmonds pulled the team aside and challenged them to focus.
“I just challenged. I challenge them to be who we are. We had not been that yet. And I was just telling them if wanted to play today, they would show up and play because at that point I didn’t feel like they had shown up,” Edmonds said. “If we were playing blah it is not good for us. So I just challenged them to be us. And if they were ready to play, I was ready to watch them. They stepped up and they were ready to get going after that.
Not only did Rice find its rhythm, but they played some of their best basketball yet from that point onward. An 11-0 Rice run erased the Gaels’ lead entirely, with the Owls taking a brief two-point lead before heading into halftime even at 35-all.
The defense was starting to gel and the Owls were taking better care of the basketball. Maya Bokunewicz did the rest. The veteran guard connected on seven three-pointers, tying the school record and pushing the Rice lead to as many as 16 points.
When St. Mary’s tried to mount a late comeback, Rice made its free throws and Dominque Ennis delivered the dagger three in the closing seconds to put the game away. Rice moves to 3-2 with the win.
Final Box | Rice 73 – St. Mary’s 62
— The Roost (@AtTheRoost) November 19, 2023
What They’re Saying
“We have kids that are now sophomores that were freshmen and played a lot of minutes, but there’s still ultimately very young on the basketball court. But there’s a lot of times they do not show their youth and inexperience at times today, I felt like we we showed that a little bit, but we’re still figuring it out. We don’t want to peak right now. We want to be peaking in February and March. I told them after the last game, we don’t need to hang our heads and hopefully, these adversities we’re facing now are going to bring us blessings in February and March.” – Head coach Lindsay Edmonds
Key takeaway | Masterful Maya
This team is still learning who to lean on in big moments. A season ago, Ashlee Austin and Destiny Jackson were the spark plugs that willed this program to win. Jackson remains, but her role as a distributor is just as important as that of a scorer. She’s going to need someone else to make those clutch shots. On Sunday, that clutch someone was Maya Bokunewicz.
“Maya Buckets, that’s the opening statement,” Edmonds joked.
Bokunewicz tied a career-high with 26 points, reached in large part by the aforementioned seven triples. Even with her big day from behind the arc, Rice still only shot 38 percent from the floor. All of those makes mattered. The fact that they counted for three instead of two was a bonus.
“I kind of lost count,” Bokunewicz admitted. “I would just shoot one and it would go in… it kept happening. Like coach Edmonds said, my teammates really just found me, I was wide open and I just happened to be really on today.”
Up Next: at Stephen F. Austin (Sat. Nov 25)
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