Feb. 8, 2014
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – The Rice Owls women’s basketball team was unable to crack the stingy defense of No. 25 Middle Tennessee in a 65-54 loss Saturday afternoon at the Murphy Center.
The Owls (10-12, 3-6) shot just 34 percent from the field and committed 16 turnovers that led to 18 points for the Blue Raiders.
Four Owls scored in double-figures for the first time since Nov. 23 at Michigan State. Senior forward Jessica Kuster scored a game-high 15 points and pulled down 10 rebounds for her 19th double-double of the season and the 60th of her career. Kuster is now in a tie for second place in Conference USA history with the 60 double-doubles.
Middle Tennessee (19-4, 8-1), who saw their 17-game win streak come to an end in their previous game against Southern Miss, was led in scoring by Laken Leonard (13 points).
The Owls fell behind by as much 49-28 with 9:41 remaining in the second half but managed to cut the deficit to 56-48 with 3:04 to go. The Blue Raiders outscored the Owls, 9-6 the rest of the way to hang on for the win.
Rice entered halftime trailing the Blue Raiders 28-18 and found the going tough shooting the basketball from the field. The Owls made just 7-of-30 (23 percent) from the floor in the first 20 minutes, including 1-of-7 from three-point territory. Hawkins led Rice with five points, followed by four points from Kuster.
Rowe scored eight points to lead all scorers in the game’s first 20 minutes. The Blue Raiders shot 46 percent (11-of-24) from the floor and outscored Rice 16-6 points in the paint and 13-6 in points off the bench.
Rice managed to cut their deficit to 18-16 following a Hawkins made jumper but Middle Tennessee closed the half on a 10-2 run.
The Owls will next travel to Tulsa on Wednesday, Feb. 12 for a 7 p.m. tip before returning home on Saturday, Feb. 15 to host UTSA.