BIRMINGHAM, AL - Senior forward Jasmine Goodwine led a balanced offensive attack with a team-high 18 points to help lead the Rice Owls to a 75-63 victory over the UTSA Roadrunners in the opening round of the C-USA Championships Wednesday evening at Bartow Arena.
Rice (18-12, 8-10) advanced to the quarterfinals of the C-USA Championships for a second straight season and will face second-seeded Middle Tennessee (20-9, 15-3) on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. (CT) from Bartow Arena. The game will be video streamed for free on CampusInsiders.com. Middle Tennessee defeated the Owls 71-61 back on Jan. 5 in Murfreesboro in the only meeting between the two schools this season.
Rice's 18 wins are the most in a single season since the 2010-11 squad went 18-14. The Owls will also be trying to advance to the semifinals of the C-USA Championships for the first time since 2007 on Thursday.
On Wednesday, the Owls outshot UTSA (14-16, 10-8) from the field (46 percent-41 percent) and nearly every specialty stat; outscoring the Roadrunners in points in the paint (38-28), points off turnovers (12-11), second chance points (15-4) and bench scoring (22-10). The Owls also did a solid job on the glass, outrebounding UTSA 41-36, including 12 offensive rebounds.
"I thought the way we battled defensively was key for us tonight down the stretch," Rice head coach Tina Langley said. "Maya Hawkins did a good job on the offensive end of getting us into things and really handling the tempo and pace. Each person when their named was called came in and really executed and did what they were supposed to do both on the defensive and offensive end. Our bench gave great minutes."
Goodwine scored her 18 points on 7-of-14 shooting (3-of-3 at the free throw line) from the field along with five rebounds. Other Owls to score in double-figures included Nicole Iademarco (12 points), Shani Rainey (11 points), Hawkins (10) and Lauren Grigsby (10).
In addition to her 10 points and game-high six assists, Hawkins played all 40 minutes and in the second quarter connected on her 151st career three-pointer to becomes the Rice all-time leader in made three-pointers to surpass Tara Watts' (2007-10) previous record of 150 three-pointers made.
After a competitive opening quarter in which the game was tied 18-18, the Owls found a groove on the offensive end in the final minutes of the first half and used a 10-3 run to take a 35-32 lead at the half. During that stretch Iademarco and Hawkins hit three-pointers and freshman Kendall Ellig scored on a pair of layups.
After scoring just three points in the opening half, Iademarco found a rhythm in third quarter by scoring a team-best seven points in the period on 3-of-4 shooting along with three rebounds and two assists and Rice ended the quarter with a 53-47 advantage.
In the fourth the Rice defense took over, holding UTSA scoreless until the 6:35 mark and taking control of the game with a 7-0 run to go up 60-47. That lead wouldn't dip into single digits the rest of the evening as the Owls cruised to victory to setup a date with the Blue Raiders on Thursday, whom the Owls lost to in the quarterfinals of last year's C-USA Championships.
"Middle Tennessee is a great team that's incredibly well-coached," Langley said. "They're very experienced and they're going to be well prepared. We've got to get to the hotel tonight and get our girls some rest and start focusing on what we need to do game plan wise."