Feb. 12, 2012
Houston - Brianna Hypolite scored a team-high 19 points and freshman Nakachi Maduka registered career-highs in scoring and rebounding with 13 points and 10 boards to lead the Rice Owls to a 55-48 victory over Tulsa on Sunday afternoon inside Tudor Fieldhouse.
In a tightly contested ball game, the Owls were down 8-2 early, but went on a 9-1 run for an 11-9 lead. TU regained the lead at 22-20, but two free throws by freshman Christal Porter and a Hypolite three-pointer put the Owls up 25-22 and would never trail the rest of the way.
Free throw shooting in the second-half and the play of Jessica Kuster late in the ball game preserved the Rice victory.
Kuster scored 10 points and snared six rebounds, both below her season averages, but she was instrumental in crunch time. With Rice clinging to a 48-46 lead she stole a Tulsa inbounds pass, was fouled, and made two free throws with 51 seconds to play. She then had a key rebound on Tulsa's ensuing possession.
The Owls (12-12, 6-5) converted 18 of 22 free throws in the second-half including seven straight in the final minute. After Kuster's two free throws, Amenemope McKinney stepped to the line and made two, Hypolite sank two, and then Maduka went 1-2 to give Rice the 55-48 win.
On the day, Rice made 22 of 28 at the free throw line and outscored TU 30 to 24 in the second-half. Tulsa tallied 18 field goals to Rice's 15, but only shot 18 free throws and made 11.
The win also avenges Rice's earlier loss at Tulsa (69-42) on Jan. 15.
"I am proud of our defensive effort today," stated Rice head coach Greg Williams. "We were more physical in the post today than we were in our game up at Tulsa. I also thought Brittany Carter did a tremendous job defensively."
Rice's defense carded 15 steals as TU turned the ball over 24 times. Consequently, the Owls took advantage and scored 22 points off of those 24 turnovers.
It is the sixth time that Hypolite has led Rice is scoring this season and the 13th game in which she's reached double-digits in scoring.
"Brianna (Hypolite) got us off to a great start and we were going to her," said Williams. "She got some good looks and she is a great free throw shooter."
Hypolite made seven of eight free throws on the day and Kuster canned six of eight free throws as well.
Maduka's double-double was the first of her career and the 12th double-double of the season by a Rice Owl.
"I was really proud of Nakachi Maduka's play this afternoon," commented Williams. "She had a really good week of practice, especially on offense and keeping her poise in the post and not panic. She is strong and physical and gave us good minutes on both ends of the floor."
Tulsa (10-12, 5-6) was led by Taylor Hooker's 19 points and 10 rebounds. Chanice Scott and Tiffani Couisnard scored nine and eight points respectively for the Golden Hurricane.
Rice is on the road for two ball games next week. First, the Owls travel to New Orleans to play Tulane on Thursday (Feb. 16) at 7 p.m. and then to Dallas to face SMU on Sunday (Feb. 19) at 2 p.m.
Post-game press conference below: