Owls Victorious at SMU, 69-60

Jessica Kuster.

Feb. 19, 2012

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Dallas - Jessica Kuster posted her 11th double-double of the season in leading the Rice Owls women's basketball team to a season-sweep of SMU with a 69-60 victory Sunday afternoon inside Moody Coliseum.

Kuster scored a game-high 22 points with a game-high 12 rebounds as well. She also had a game-high four steals. It was Kuster's fourth double-double in league action this season and she now has 24 double-doubles in her career. Kuster has now poured in 850 points in her career to lead all Conference USA sophomores (15.2 points per game).

"Jessica Kuster had a great overall game and I was pleased that she kept battling despite a slow start," said Owl head coach Greg Williams on Kuster's contribution.

The Owls (13-13, 7-6) have now won the last four games vs. SMU (12-14, 5-8). Rice previously defeated the Mustangs 56-54 on January 8 in Houston.

"Today was a big road win for us, especially coming off a tough overtime loss Thursday at Tulane," continued Williams. "We shot the ball better today along with another solid defensive effort. D'Frantz had an excellent floor game with nine assists and three steals as well as playing outstanding defense against Alisha Fillmore, SMU's leading scorer. We received excellent production off the bench from Christal Porter and Megan Schafer to help spread our scoring around. Additionally important was the defensive effort of Jessica Goswitz on Samantha Mahnesmith, SMU's third leading scorer."

Fillmore was held to four points on 2-13 shooting from the field. Fillmore had been averaging 11.0 points per game average. Mahensmith scored seven points on the day. She was averaging 8.9 points an outing.

Brianna Hypolite's three-pointer snapped a 23-23 tie as Rice outscored SMU 8-4 in the final 3:23 of the first-half. The Owls shot 37.1 percent (13-35) from the field in the first 20 minutes and SMU was a tick better at 37.9 percent (11-29), but the main difference came from beyond the three-point line where Rice canned five treys to SMU's three.

Rice blew up in the second-half after clinging to a 39-34 lead at 14:26. A three-pointer from Smart was the catalyst, as Rice went on a 17-6 run, giving the Owls a commanding 56-40 lead. Another three-pointer, this time from Jessica Goswitz, put Rice further ahead at 59-42 with 6:51 to play.

Rice's biggest lead was 19 (61-42), which came on a 15-foot jumper from freshman Christal Porter at the 6:00 mark. SMU did outscore the Owls 18 to nine in the final six minutes, but it was too little and too late as Rice captured its second Conference USA victory on the road.

Kuster received help in scoring from Porter who finished with 11 points, while snaring five rebounds. Smart scored eight points, with the aforementioned nine assists. Goswitz, Candace Ashford, and Megan Shafer each scored seven points on the day.

The Owls broke out of a shooting slump by making 44.3 percent (27-61) from the field. SMU managed to shoot 39.3 percent (22-56). Rice converted on eight three-pointers and the Mustangs made five.

SMU had two players in double-digit scoring. Akil Simpson came off the bench to lead the team with 12 points, while Krystal Johnson scored 10 points. Christine Elliott led the Mustangs on the boards with 10 rebounds, while contributing five points to the cause.

The Owls are back in action on Thursday (February 23) when they host Houston (2-23, 1-12). Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. inside Tudor Fieldhouse. Rice won the first meeting this season 58-50 at UH on January 28.





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