For the first time in nearly a month, Rice Women’s Basketball lost in regulation, falling to Charlotte in the Conference USA Tournament.
Once sitting at 0-5 in conference play, Rice women’s basketball found themselves disappointed when they fell to No. 1 seed Charlotte in the third round of the Conference USA Tournament on Thursday afternoon. The Owls had battled the 49ers to the wire, leading roughly midway through the fourth quarter but were unable to close things out.
“I think if you had told me that a month ago, I’d have been like, okay, great,” head coach Lindsay Edmonds said in the aftermath. “Today, to be in it and to be so close. [I’m] not into a lot of moral victories so I would have liked to have seen that go the other way.”
It almost did. Rice women’s basketball led by as many as nine points in the first half, doing a tremendous job of keeping the Charlotte offense out of sync. The Owls fell out of rhythm themselves in the third quarter, but were able to settle down, buoyed by three-pointers from Maya Bokunewicz and Ashlee Austin, and keep the game within striking distance right up to the fourth quarter.
Trailing by four with 28 seconds to go, Rice would gather three offensive rebounds in the next possession, but none of their putback attempts would fall through the irons. Charlotte would take over, knock down a few more free throws and close it out.
“[I’m] just really proud of them, proud of their effort, proud of their fight,” Edmonds said. “There were times in this game we could have hung our heads, but we didn’t. That’s not who we are. That’s not what we’re about.”
Player Spotlight | Destiny Jackson
Jackson might not have received the accolades or attention some of her fellow young teammates have, but her impact on this basketball team cannot go unnoticed. She’s the glue on offense and led the team on Thursday with 14 points while still contributing a team-high four assists, nabbing four steals and finishing with six rebounds. When she’s productive this team is better. She was great against the 49ers.
Stat Corner | Free throw discrepancies
Both teams featured eerily similar box scores in this contest. They tied with 37 rebounds apiece. Rice had 14 turnovers, Charlotte had 15. Neither shot particularly well, with that shooting lull spilling into the fourth quarter. Free throws were the difference. Charlotte attempted 25 free throws to Rice’s 11 shots from the charity stripe. Had the Owls gotten to the line a few more times this game really could have gone either way.
Final Box | Charlotte 59 – Rice 53
FINAL | Charlotte 59 – @RiceWBB 53
Owls' tourney run cut shot in a close one. pic.twitter.com/jqgOS2xL7z
— The Roost (@AtTheRoost) March 10, 2022
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Part of Edmonds’ postgame message was a rallying cry. “I told them I don’t want the season to be over with yet and that their mindset should still be locked in on basketball and continuing to play,” she said. They deserve to continue to play. The way we’ve been playing, they deserve to continue to play.”
Rice will receive consideration from the WNIT, who Edmonds said had been to see Rice play as well as the WBI. Either way, some sort of postseason berth seems like for this team, which ends the regular season as winners of seven of their last nine.