HOUSTON - The North Texas Mean Green women's basketball team rallied from a 17-point third quarter deficit to force overtime and defeat the Rice Owls 77-69 Saturday afternoon at Tudor Fieldhouse.
Five Rice players scored in double-figures in the loss, led by a team-high 15 points from junior guard Shani Rainey. Nicole Iademarco (13 points), Wendy Knight (12 points), Maya Hawkins (10 points) and Lexie Ducat (10 points) all poured in double-digit scoring performances for Rice.
The Owls (12-9, 3-7) lost for just the second time this season when outrebounding their opponent (44-36) and suffered their first loss of the season (11-1) when leading at any point by 10 or more points. Rice played without the services of senior forward Jasmine Goodwine, the team's leading scorer.
North Texas (7-14, 4-6) outscored the Owls 36-15 in the fourth quarter and overtime and rode the hot hand of Kelsey Criner (game-high 25 points) to victory. The Mean Green held an 18-9 advantage in bench points and a 36-30 bump in points in the paint.
In total, there were 66 fouls between both teams with seven players combined fouling out and five players finishing the contest with four fouls apiece.
Rice, who trailed for just 3:42 of the game, outscored the Mean Green 35-28 in the opening half and turned the ball over just six times in the first 20 minutes. Rainey scored nine points while Hawkins added eight additional points and tied former Owl Jessica Goswitz for fourth on the Rice all-time three-pointers made (140) list.
The Owls increased their lead to as large as 49-32 with 2:53 remaining in the third quarter before North Texas began pecking away. Rice struggled offensively in the fourth quarter, scoring just six points and were held without a made field goal in the 10 minutes. Criner gave North Texas their first lead (57-56) of the night with 2:57 remaining in regulation on a driving layup.
Rice trailed 60-58 with 34 seconds left before Iademarco was fouled and made both free throws to force overtime. However, in the extra period the Owls were without Hawkins, Ducat and Ellig after fouling out and North Texas took advantage by outscoring Rice 17-9 in the extra five minutes.
The Owls will look to bounce back next week when they host a pair of games against Florida schools, beginning first with FIU on Thursday at 7 p.m.