Owls Sink Panthers In Conference Opener
Rice defense shines in 59-41 victory over FIU
Jan. 8, 2014
MIAMI, Fla. – The Rice Owls women’s basketball team made quite the statement in their Conference USA opener Wednesday evening, defeating FIU 59-41 at the U.S. Century Bank Arena to extend their winning streak to three straight.
Rice (8-6, 1-0) held the Panthers to an opponent’s season low in points and shooting percentage (21%) and the 41 points allowed were the lowest since the Owl defeated UTSA 43-41 on Dec. 20, 2012.
Senior forward Jessica Kuster notched her 12th double-double of the season with 20 points and 15 rebounds in 40 minutes of action. Kuster made 7-of-20 attempts from the field and 6-of-7 at the charity stripe. The San Antonio, Texas native is now just 20 rebounds shy of tying Lauren Neaves’ all-time school record of 1,190 career rebounds.
Kuster was joined in double-figures by Nakachi Maduka, who scored 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting and also played superb perimeter defense.
Rice shot 40 percent from the field as a team, won the points in the paint (34-10), and led the bench scoring category for an eighth consecutive game, 18-13.
The story of the night however, was the Owls defense and the job they did on FIU’s Jerica Coley. The senior, who entered play Wednesday as the nation’s number two leading scorer at 28 points per game, was held to a season-low 16 points on just 6-of-24 shooting and committed a game-high six turnovers.
Coley did set the FIU all-time scoring record in the process with 2,524 career points.
Rice expanded their lead by as much as 24 points late in the second half and held the Panthers to just 22 percent shooting in the half.
The Owls took a 26-20 lead into halftime, holding the Panthers to just 20 percent (8-of-41) shooting from the field.
Kuster led all players with 10 points in the first half on 5-of-10 shooting from the field, along with a team-best seven rebounds. As a team the Owls shot 44 percent and they outscored the Panthers 16-8 in points in the paint.
Coley led FIU with six points but shot just 2-of-13 and had a team-high three turnovers in the first 20 minutes. The Panthers managed to keep things close due in part to 17 offensive rebounds.
The Owls jumped out to an 11-2 lead in the first three minutes and led for all but one minute of the entire first half.
Rice will continue their Florida swing this Saturday, Jan. 11 when they travel to Boca Raton to face Florida Atlantic. That contest is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. (CT).