BATON ROUGE, La. – Three Owls scored in double-figures, led by a game-high 21 points from junior guard Shani Rainey, but a late Rice rally fell short in a 66-55 loss Wednesday evening to LSU at the Maravich Center.
Rice (1-1) was outshot by the Lady Tigers (3-0) from the field by a 48 percent (27-of-56) to 39 percent (18-of-46) margin. The Owls were outrebounded 35-27, but Rice was able to hang close thanks to a 17-14 points off turnovers advantage and made six more free throws than the Lady Tigers.
“I’m proud of the effort we gave tonight but the little things matter, especially in a game like this,” Rice head coach Tina Langley said. “I think this is a game we can build from.”
Rainey led all scorers in the game with 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field and a 7-of-12 performance at the free throw line. It marked the first time in Rainey’s career that the Fairfield, Texas native posted consecutive 20-plus point games after scoring 20 points in the season-opening victory over Prairie View A&M . In addition, Rainey also grabbed a team-best seven rebounds in 28 minutes.
The Owls also got a brilliant performance off the bench from freshman forward Kendall Ellig, who made her collegiate debut and scored 11 points (5-of-7 shooting) while drawing a couple of charges in 27 minutes. Senior guard Maya Hawkins was the third Owl to score in double-figures (11 points) and dished out four assists.
LSU also had three players score in double-digits, led by 15 points from forward Alexis Hyder. The Lady Tigers outscored Rice 26-24 in points in the paint and 20-13 in bench points.
After LSU took a 15-13 lead in the opening quarter, the Owls responded with an 8-0 run to grab a 21-17 lead with 4:52 remaining in the opening half. During that stint Hawkins scored six straight points, including one of her two made three-pointers on the night. However, LSU closed the half strong to take a 34-25 lead into the half.
The two teams played to a 13-13 tie in third quarter and Rice faced a 47-38 deficit entering the fourth. The Lady Tigers extended that lead to as high as 63-44 with 4:27 remaining before a personal 7-0 run by Rainey brought the Owls to within 64-53 with 2:21 to go. That margin would prove to be as close as Rice would come as LSU closed out a 66-55 victory.
Rice will try to bounce back this Saturday, Nov. 19 when they travel crosstown to face the Houston Baptist Huskies at 2 p.m.