- The Rice Owls women's basketball team dropped an 80-75 decision to the C-USA regular season champion WKU Lady Toppers Saturday afternoon on Senior Day at Tudor Fieldhouse.
Rice (17-12, 8-10) placed four players in double-figure scoring in the loss, led by a team-high 19 points from senior guard Maya Hawkins. The Mansfield, Texas native made 7-of-16 shots from the floor and connected on three made three-pointers to tie her with Tara Watts (2007-10) for the most made three-pointers in a Rice career with 150. Hawkins' senior teammate Jasmine Goodwine poured in 16 points on 8-of-12 shooting and scored a team-best 12 of the points in the second half. Redshirt sophomore guard Nicole Iademarco chipped in 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting while junior guard Shani Rainey added an additional 12 points (10 in the second half).
WKU (24-6, 16-2) claimed its second outright C-USA regular season championship in three seasons with the victory. Senior guard Kendall Noble scored a game-high 22 points while sophomore Sidnee Bopp scored a career-high with 17 points.
The Owls outshot WKU 51-49 percent from the field but the Lady Toppers hurt the Owls with the three-point shot, connecting on 9-of-21 attempts (43 percent) and made 19-of-24 free throw attempts.
With the loss, Rice will be the No. 10 seed in the Conference USA Tournament and will face No. 7 UTSA in the opening round. The Owls won their only meeting with the Roadrunners this season in a dramatic 66-61 comeback victory back on Feb. 16.
Rice jumped out to an early lead in the opening quarter on Saturday, opening up an 11-3 advantage just three minutes into the contest behind six points from Iademarco. The Lady Toppers responded with a run of their own, outscoring the Owls 17-9 the rest of the quarter to even the score at 20-20.
WKU scored the first eight points of the second period and extended their lead to 37-30 with 1:48 left in the half before Rice trimmed the deficit to 37-34 on a Hawkins layup at the quarter horn. The Owls managed to pull to within 46-45 midway through the third quarter but WKU used an 11-4 run to take a 57-49 advantage to the fourth.
In the final quarter the Owls made vicious rally, trimming a 70-57 deficit down to 75-74 with 18 seconds left in regulation. During that stretch Hawkins scored or assisted on five of the Owls' six made field goals, including two clutch three-pointers. The Lady Toppers prevailed in the closing seconds by making 5-of-6 free throw attempts.