HOUSTON - The Rice Owls women's basketball team reached the 20-win plateau for the first time since the 2004-05 season with a 73-63 victory over UT Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) Sunday afternoon at Tudor Fieldhouse, advancing to the Women's Basketball Invitational (WBI) semifinals scheduled for next Thursday, March 23.
Rice (20-13) awaits the winner of Idaho-Eastern Washington, which will take place tomorrow evening in Cheney, Washington.
The Owls' victory marked the first time the team has won two postseason games in a season since the 1998-99 campaign when Rice defeated Miami and Baylor in the first two rounds of the WNIT.
"I'm very happy for our seniors, we're not ready for them to leave," Rice head coach Tina Langley said. "We're going to keep fighting for them. I'm just really proud of our team today. You have to applaud our team for all their hard work throughout the season and the hours of film and extra work they've put in. I'm very happy for them and our staff."
The Owls were led on Sunday by senior Jasmine Goodwine, who recorded her sixth career double-double with 23 points and a career-high tying 14 rebounds. Goodwine backed up a 21-point performance versus Lamar last Thursday by making 9-of-16 shots from the field (4-of-6 at the FT line) along with three assists, two blocks and a steal.
Rice sophomore guard Lauren Grigsby more than complimented Goodwine's effort by scoring a career and game-high 24 points on 6-of-9 shooting and a perfect 12-of-12 performance at the free throw line in 32 minutes off the bench, besting her previous career-high of 16 points set earlier this season.
The Owls limited UTRGV (19-14) to just 31 percent shooting while Rice made 46 percent of their shots from the field. Rice also held an edge in rebounds (48-35), assists (18-5), points in the paint (42-20) and bench scoring (34-26).
UTRGV actually grabbed an early 9-0 in the first two minutes of the opening quarter and Rice didn't make its first field goal until a Goodwine layup with 1:44 left in the period. However, Rice managed to hold UTRGV to just four points over the final eight minutes of the quarter to pull to within 13-10 after one.
Rice took control of the game in the second quarter by outscoring UTRGV 26-14 behind 10 points from Grigsby and 62 percent shooting from the team. The Owls pushed their lead to as much as 33-22 in the quarter and entered halftime with a 36-27 advantage.
Rice scored 26 more points in the third quarter, led by nine points from Goodwine and extended their lead to 62-43 entering the fourth. UTRGV managed to slice a 23-point Rice lead down to 71-63 with under one minute remaining but never closer.