Feb. 1, 2014
HOUSTON, Texas – Despite a big second half rally, the Rice Owls women’s basketball team was unable to climb out of a 27-point deficit, falling 74-58 to Southern Miss Saturday afternoon at Tudor Fieldhouse.
Rice (10-11, 3-5) dropped their fourth straight game despite a 29-point, 12-rebound performance from senior forward Jessica Kuster. The San Antonio, Texas native made 10-of-17 shots from the field and 9-of-10 at the charity stripe and also had a team-best four steals.
The double-double was her 18th of the season and the 59th of her career. She came into play Saturday tied for second in the nation in double-doubles this season.
The Owls, who once trailed 52-25 with 14:26 remaining in the second half, managed to slice Golden Eagles lead down to 62-53 with 3:32 to go but were unable to get any closer.
Rice junior forward Christal Porter registered her second double-digit scoring performance in her last three games with 13 points on 4-of-8 shooting (5-of-8 from the free throw line) and nine rebounds.
USM (15-5, 4-3) took advantage of 23 Rice turnovers, which turned into 29 points for the Golden Eagles. USM had three players score in double-figures, led by 15 points from Jerontay Clemons, who fell one rebound short of a double-double as well. The Golden Eagles also outscored Rice 34-20 points in the paint and 14-7 in second chance points.
The Golden Eagles outshot the Owls 43 percent to 39 percent and made a staggering 21-of-24 (88 percent) free throw attempts.
The two teams played a back-and-forth first seven minutes of the first half before USM broke a 16-16 tie and outscored Rice 22-7 the remainder of the half. The Golden Eagles held a 17-0 advantage in points off turnovers while the Owls were held without a point on six USM miscues.
Kuster scored 14 of her game-high 29 points in the first half and 12 of those came in the first seven minutes.
Rice will now have an entire week to prepare for No. 25 Middle Tennessee, who the Owls will travel to on Saturday, Feb. 8 at 2 p.m.