March 5, 2014
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Rice Owls women’s basketball team closed the 2013-14 regular season in style with a 61-51 victory over UAB Wednesday evening at Bartow Arena. Rice senior forward Jessica Kuster (28 points, 14 rebounds) added one more record to her illustrious career, recording her 66th career double-double to surpass TCU’s Sandora Irvin for the most career double-double in C-USA history.
Kuster started the game 0-for-8 from the field before finishing 12-of-26, including 2-of-3 from three-point territory. Rice junior forward Christal Porter played another solid game, scoring 12 points and grabbing 11 rebounds for her second straight double-double and her fourth in the last six games. Porter also tied her career-high with four steals. Freshman guard Maya Hawkins also scored in double-figures, knocking down 4-of-7 from three-point territory en route to 18 points, her most since her career-high 20-point performance on Jan. 18.
The Owls (13-16, 6-10) led from start to finish and Rice never looked back after holding the Blazers (15-13, 7-8) to just 28 percent shooting and a season-low 17 first-half points. Rice committed 15 turnovers but allowed only eight points off those miscues while the Owls scored 15 points off 13 Blazer turnovers.
Hawkins gave the Owls a big boost in the early going with Kuster struggling from the field, scoring 10 of Rice’s first 12 points in the game’s first 10 minutes before Kuster came on strong. Kuster would ensue to score 10 of the next 12 points for the Owls and had a double-double at halftime with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
In the second half the Blazers managed to cut the Owls lead down to 55-49 with 2:45 remaining but Rice closed on a 6-2 run during that final stretch with all six of those points coming at the free throw line.
UAB was led in scoring by senior forward Karisma Chapman, who scored 25 points but shot just 8-of-25 from the field. Ashley Grimes also scored in double-figures with 11 points but made just 4-of-13 from the floor.
Rice earns the No. 12 seed in the C-USA Tournament and will face No. 13 FIU on Tuesday, March 11 at 2:30 p.m. (CT). The Owls defeated FIU earlier this season in the conference opener in Miami, 59-41.