By: Kenny Bybee (firstname.lastname@example.org)
HOUSTON - The Rice Owls women's basketball team saw their season-high three-game win streak come to an end Thursday evening in a 59-49 home setback to the Southern Miss Lady Eagles.
Rice (7-19, 6-9) got off to a sluggish start offensively in the first half by scoring a season-low 14 points in the first 20 minutes en route to the team's first loss in two weeks.
Junior Maya Hawkins led the Owls with 12 points while sophomore guard Wendy Knight chipped in 11 points. The Owls were outshot from the field by Southern Miss, 40 percent-33 percent, and committed 21 turnovers that led to 16 Lady Eagle points.
Rice junior Jasmine Goodwine just missed out on a double-double with 7 points and a career-high 14 rebounds in the loss.
Southern Miss (14-12, 7-8) swept the season-series from the Owls by placing three players in double-figures, led by a game-high 14 points off the bench from Shayla Wilson. Keri Jewett-Giles (12 points) and Lashyra Cotton (12 points) also scored double-figures.
"Credit Southern Miss for our slow start," Rice head coach Tina Langley said. "They came out and defended incredibly hard and were the more physical and aggressive team. We just didn't come out ready like we have been. I thought the second half we made some adjustments and played more of the style that we like to play and did a better job on the boards."
Despite a cold shooting first half, the Owls trailed only 24-14 going into halftime and kept at bay through much of the third quarter, trimming the deficit to 42-34 to start the final quarter.
A three-pointer by Hawkins with 5:01 remaining in the game brought the Owls to within 49-44 but Southern Miss was able to withstand the Rice run and scored on back-to-back possessions off turnovers to seal the victory late.
The Owls will now look to bounce back in the team's final home game of the season, Saturday at 2 p.m. versus Louisiana Tech. The Lady Techsters (14-12, 9-6) narrowly defeated the Owls 63-61 in Ruston back on Feb. 4.
"They're going to be a big challenge for us," Langley said. "They're going to come in and do some of the things Southern Miss did. Hopefully this game prepared us for that. We'll get in tomorrow, watch some film and have a day to prepare and look forward to having one more game at home."