Feb. 19, 2014
HOUSTON, Texas – Despite Jessica Kuster’s 22nd double-double of the season and a season-high 13 points from Megan Palmer, the Rice Owls women’s basketball team was unable to dig themselves out of a big first half hole in an 85-49 loss to Old Dominion Wednesday evening at Tudor Fieldhouse.
Kuster had her third-best scoring performance of the season with 29 points on 12-of-24 shooting (4-of-4 at the free throw line) and grabbed 10 rebounds in 36 minutes of action. The double-double was the 63rd of her career leaving her two shy of the C-USA record (65) currently held by TCU’s Sandora Irvin.
Palmer tied her season-high with the 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting and also had seven rebounds.
The Owls (11-14, 4-8) managed to shoot just 32 percent from the field for the game while Old Dominion (12-14, 5-7) shot at a 53 percent clip. The Lady Monarchs had three players score in double-figures, led by a game-high 30 points from junior forward Shae Kelley. Entering play Wednesday with 13 double-doubles, Kelley added to that total by chipping in 10 rebounds and also had six assists. Chelisa Painter also recorded a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds and was part of a 53-31 rebounding advantage for ODU.
Rice fell behind 14-2 in the game’s first five minutes and was never able to recover. The Owls entered the locker room trailing 49-16 at halftime, which was a season-low in points in any half this season. Only Kuster (8 points, 6 rebounds) and Palmer (8 points) registered points for Rice in the first half and as a team the Owls shot just 25 percent (8-of-32).
On the flipside ODU played perhaps their best half of the season, making 53 percent of their shots from the field, 3-of-5 from beyond the arc, and 12-of-15 at the free throw line. Eight different Lady Monarchs scored led by 14 points from Kelley. ODU outrebounded Rice 29-12 and had a 24-8 advantage in points in the paint and a 16-0 edge in bench points.
Rice played much better in the second half but was still outscored 36-33 despite Kuster scoring 19 of her 29 points.
Kuster is now just 11 rebounds shy of breaking the Rice all-time single-season record of 344, currently held by Lauren Neaves (2005-06) and just 34 points away from breaking the single-season scoring record (Pat Krieger, 555 points, 1979-80). The San Antonio, Texas native is also now just 25 points away from joining the elusive 2,000 career points, 1,000 career rebounds club.
The Owls will next try their luck on the road when they travel to Ruston, La. to face Louisiana Tech on Saturday at 6 p.m.