March 10, 2011
El Paso, Texas - No. 6 seed Memphis had three players score in double-digits as the Tigers held on to defeat the No. 3 seed Rice Owls 63-52 in women's basketball quarterfinal action of the 2011 Buick Conference USA Championship at Memorial Gym. The Owls (18-13, 10-6) were led by C-USA Freshman of the Year, Jessica Kuster who scored 16 points, while junior point guard D'Frantz Smart added 13 points and five assists.
The Tigers (21-11, 8-8) were led by Brittany Carter's 21 points off the bench, while Jasmine Lee did the damage inside with 15 points and Ramses Lonlack added 11 points and 11 rebounds.
"I give a lot of credit to Memphis," stated Rice head coach Greg Williams. "They took us out of our offense with some really outstanding defense. They are one of the better defensive teams in the league."
Rice was up 5-2 on jumpers by Kuster, a two and a three-pointer, but Memphis answered with an 8-0 run for a 10-5 lead. Two free throws by Rice's Morgan Mayse tied the contest at 18 (5:59). The Owls then held its last lead at 3:05 when Kuster hit her second trey of the half to make it 23-21. Carter then scored the last two field goals of the half to give the Tigers a 27-23 advantage.
Rice only managed to shoot 23.5 percent (8-34) in the first 20 minutes, while Memphis hit 40.7 (11-27).
The Owls were down 44-33 (12:52) after Memphis's Alex Winchell made all three free throws after being fouled on three-point attempt. But, the Owls came back. Rice outscored Memphis 16 to 9 to be only down by four (53-49) with 1:42 to play. Winchell then hit two more free throws to thwart the Owl uprising.
A made three by Megan Elliott brought Rice to within five (57-52), but Carter made five of six free throws to put the game away. In the final 1:42, all of the Tigers' points came at the free throw line as they made 10-12.
For the game, Rice shot 27.9 percent (17-61), for its third-lowest mark of the season. Memphis fared better from the field making 38.2 percent (21-55). The Tigers did make 21 of 29 free throws (72.4 percent).
With four points vs. Memphis senior Morgan Mayse finishes her career with 1,083 points to rank 10th at Rice. She is the first four-year player under head coach Greg Williams to go over the 1,000-point plateau and the 18th in the program's history.
Kuster concludes her fantastic freshman year by averaging a double-double to lead the Owls in scoring (14.1 ppg) and rebounding (10.6 rpg). Kuster's 329 rebounds this season are the second-highest in Rice history, behind Lauren Neaves' 2006 total of 344. She also became only the second freshman in C-USA history to be named to the All-C-USA First Team.
Said Williams in summing up the season, "I am very proud of my team. If you would've told me we were going to be in this situation, before the season started, going into the season without our leading scorer, leading rebounder, third team all conference player in Jackie Stanley, I would've found it hard to believe. I am very proud of this team. It's disappointing. We are disappointed with the outcome today. You gotta give Memphis credit for taking us out of some things. We were playing at a very high level, really, after we beat Tulane in over time in the regular season. We were not at that level today."