By: Kenny Bybee (firstname.lastname@example.org)
HOUSTON - A valiant Rice Owls women's basketball team's comeback came up just short Thursday evening, dropping a 70-67 decision in overtime to the Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters at Tudor Fieldhouse.
Rice (10-7, 1-5) lost in overtime for the second time in three games despite receiving a team-high 16 points off the bench from redshirt sophomore Nicole Iademarco and another 14 points from senior point guard Maya Hawkins. The Owls erased a 57-49 deficit in the final two minutes of regulation to force overtime but the Lady Techsters (8-9, 3-3) outscored Rice 11-8 in the extra five minutes.
The Owls shot just 37 percent (22-of-60) for the evening but managed to stay close throughout thanks to 11 made three-pointers, the second-most all season by Rice.
Tech was led in scoring by Kierra Anthony, who poured in a game-high 21 points (8 of which came in OT), while Jasmine LeBlanc recorded a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds. The Lady Techsters outscored Rice in points in the paint (30-18) and managed to squeak out the victory despite making just 11-of-25 (44%) from the free throw line.
The Owls managed to hang close in the opening half and trailed just 27-24 entering the locker room at halftime. Rice continued to chip away at the Lady Techsters lead in the third quarter and after an Iademarco three-pointer brought the Owls to within 39-38, broke through to take the lead (41-39, 0:22) when Hawkins connected on one of her four made three-pointers on the evening.
However, Tech quickly answered back with a three-point play of its own right before the third quarter horn to go back in front, 42-41.
In the fourth the Owls struggled offensively for the first eight minutes but refused to go down without a fight. Iademarco drained her fourth three-pointer of the night to make the score 57-52.
Tech would struggle from the line down the stretch, making just 2-of-6 at the line and allowing Rice to stay within striking distance. Iademarco answered one free throw make with a putback layup, and Goodwine would do the same with 1:02 to go on a made jumper to make the score 59-56.
Tech's Rochelle Vasquez proceeded to miss a pair at the line, allowing Wendy Knight to tie the game in dramatic fashion on a made three-pointer with 46 seconds to go. Both teams would have opportunities to retake the lead in the final seconds but neither team capitalized and the game went to overtime tied at 59-59.
In the extra period Rice got off to a fast start on another Hawkins three-pointer but Anthony later made two costly three-pointers against the Owls, giving Tech a 67-63 advantage with under a minute to go. Knight had one last chance to force a second overtime but her three-point attempt with five seconds remaining was wide left and the Lady Techsters secured the rebound as time expired.
Rice returns to the hardwood on Saturday when they host Southern Miss from Tudor Fieldhouse at 2 p.m.