HOUSTON - Five players scored in double-figures for the second time this season to help the Rice Owls women's basketball team secure a 76-68 bounce-back victory over Southern Miss Saturday afternoon at Tudor Fieldhouse.
After suffering a heartbreaking 70-67 overtime loss at home on Thursday to Louisiana Tech, Rice (11-7, 2-5) unloaded their best shooting performance of the Conference USA season on Saturday, hitting a C-USA season-high 56 percent from the field and a sensational 53 percent (10-of-19) from three-point territory.
The Owls also dished out a C-USA season-high 21 assists, led by seven assists from senior point guard Maya Hawkins.
"I'm really proud of the effort and the execution that we had today," Rice head coach Tina Langley said. "We shared the ball incredibly well and I was pleased with our assists total. We know we're a very unselfish team, sometimes to a fault, but today we really shared the ball incredibly well, made good decisions, took the shots when we needed to, and played with a lot of confidence."
Hawkins also led the Owls in total points (15), followed by senior forward Jasmine Goodwine (14 points), junior guard Wendy Knight (13 points), junior guard Shani Rainey (12 points) and sophomore forward Nicole Iademarco.
Southern Miss (11-8, 3-4) led for a majority of the opening half, but Rice found their footing late in the second quarter and outscored the Lady Eagles 19-11 the final six minutes to take a 38-36 halftime lead. That momentum swung over into the third period and Rice pushed their advantage out to 50-41 with 4:41 left in the quarter following three-pointers from Knight and Iademarco and four points from Rainey.
In a quarter in which the two teams combined to score 41 points, Southern Miss kept the score close going into the final quarter with Rice leading 59-56. The Owls turned up the pressure in the fourth quarter, however, allowing the Lady Eagles to shoot just 4-of-16 (25 percent) from the field while Rice maintained hot on the offensive end. Hawkins scored six points in the fourth and Rice outscored Southern Miss 17-12 in the period to pull away with the 76-68 win.
The Owls will next hit the road for a pair of contests on the east coast, beginning next Thursday, Jan. 26 at Old Dominion. Rice will then face C-USA leading Charlotte on Jan. 28 at 6 p.m. (CT) on ESPN3.