By Kenny Bybee (email@example.com)
HOUSTON -- Behind a balanced scoring attack and a complete team-effort on the defensive end, the Rice Owls women's basketball team earned a 73-58 home victory over the first place WKU Lady Toppers Saturday afternoon at Tudor Fieldhouse.
The Owls (18-4, 8-2) picked up their first win in four meetings against WKU (18-6, 9-2) by limiting the top C-USA scoring offense to their second-lowest scoring output of the season (58 points) and their second-lowest field goal percentage (.333) of the year.
Rice, who led for 35 minutes, shot 53 percent from the field as a team and outscored WKU in points in the paint (34-26) and bench points (23-13). The Owls remained unbeaten (10-0) at Tudor Fieldhouse this season and have now won 14 straight home games dating back to last year.
"I'm really proud of the effort and intensity our team played with today," Rice head coach Tina Langley said. "I thought we worked very hard on the defensive end of the floor against an incredible offensive team. "We ran our schemes with confidence today on our home floor. I'm just proud of our character to come back from our previous game and to play like we did today."
Redshirt sophomore Erica Ogwumike picked up her team-leading ninth double-double of the season with a team-best 19 points and a game-high 15 rebounds in 38 minutes of action. Junior Gabrielle Stanton poured in a career-high 18 points while junior Lauren Grigsby came off the pine to add an additional 12 points.
WKU's Tashia Brown led all scorers with 22 points but was just 7-of-22 (31.8 percent) from the field.
The Lady Toppers outscored Rice 18-16 in the first quarter but it was the Owls who won the remaining three periods. The Owls shot a sizzling 77 percent (10-of-13) from the field in the second quarter, including 3-of-4 from deep, to outscore the Lady Toppers 23-16 and take a 39-34 halftime advantage. Seven different Owls scored from the field in the second quarter and an 8-0 run midway through quarter catapulted Rice in the lead for good.
Out of halftime, Stanton drilled two of the Owls nine made three-pointers on the day in a quarter in which Rice outscored WKU 16-15 to carry a 55-49 lead to the fourth.
WKU trimmed an 11-point Rice lead down to 60-54 with 5:23 remaining, but Nicole Iademarco knocked down a clutch corner three-pointer to give the Owls some breathing room and the Rice defense held the Lady Toppers without a made field goal over the final 3:53.
The Owls return to the road next week beginning with a key showdown at C-USA leading UAB on Thursday, Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. on CUSAtv. Rice then travels to Murfreesboro, TN to take on the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders on Saturday, Feb. 17 at 2 p.m. on ESPN3.