— RiceWBasketball (@RiceWBasketball) November 10, 2017
PHOENIX, Ariz. – The Rice Owls women’s basketball team erased a 15-point halftime deficit to defeat the Grand Canyon Lopes, 69-59 in the season opener Friday afternoon at the GCU Arena.
Rice (1-0) used an explosive 35-point third quarter to turn the game around all while limiting GCU (0-1) to 38 percent shooting from the field in the second half. Rice head coach Tina Langley credited the Owls defensive effort and execution for the team’s turnaround.
“I’m really proud of our team today,” Langley said. “We’ve got a lot of new players, so to be able to go on the road and face the deficit at the half and then play the type of defense we did, it’s a great sign for our future. When we decided to lock down defensively and really guard you saw great things happen on the offensive end.”
Redshirt junior forward Olivia Ogwumike led the Owls with 19 points in her first career game with Rice, 13 of which came in the second half. The Cypress, Texas native made 8-of-15 shots from the field (2-of-4 from three-point territory) and snagged seven rebounds.
Junior guard Gabrielle Stanton posted a career-high 17 points for the Owls in her first career start for Rice while also dishing out a game-high five assists. Junior guard Nicole Iademarco also scored in double-figures for the Owls, pouring in 16 points (11 in the second half) to help earn the road victory.
As a team, the Owls shot 53 percent from the floor and held an advantage over GCU in rebounds (32-24) and points in the paint (38-16).
Rice entered the locker room trailing GCU 33-18 at halftime after shooting just 32 percent from the field. The Lopes’ Brie Mobley scored 16 of GCU’s first half points on 8-of-14 shooting and August Touchard connected on a three-point as the halftime horn sounded to gives the Lopes a 15-point lead at the half.
However, Rice responded in a big way by using a 24-6 run in the first seven minutes of the third quarter. Junior guard Lauren Grigsby capped off the scoring frenzy with a go-ahead three-pointer at the 3:17 mark to give the Owls a 41-39 lead, the team’s first advantage since the opening minutes of the first quarter.
The Lopes answered momentarily, tying the game at 44-44, but Rice continued to surge ahead with a 9-1 run over the period’s final two minutes to take a 53-45 lead to the fourth quarter. Rice outscored GCU 35-12 in the third quarter alone, including a 14-2 advantage in points in the paint and a 13-2 edge in points off turnovers.
The Owls never saw their lead slip below six points in the final quarter and took a 67-53 lead with 2:54 to go, their largest advantage of the game, before winning by the final score of 69-59.
Rice will closeout their road trip in the state of Arizona on Sunday when they travel to Northern Arizona for a 2 p.m. CT tip-off against the Lumberjacks.