HOUSTON Texas - Rice sophomore Shani Rainey scored a game-high 20 points but a second half surge from the No. 8/11 Texas Longhorns proved to be too much to overcome in a 70-47 loss in the Owls' home opener Saturday afternoon at Tudor Fieldhouse.
"It was awesome to be able to play against a great Texas team today," Rice head coach Tina Langley said. "They are definitely one of the best teams in the country. I was pleased with the effort of our team and the growth we're continuing to show. I like the way we're learning how to compete, that every possession matters and how to defend scout-specific. I feel like everything's going to continue to progress game by game. We came out in the second half and didn't execute as well, and then our offense affected our defense a little bit. Texas is a great defensive team and really turned up the heat on us. They did what great teams do."
In front of a rocking home crowd, the Owls (0-3) shot a sizzling 75 percent from the field in the game's first 10 minutes to win the opening quarter, 20-14. The Owls closed the period on an 8-3 run over the final 1:57. Rainey scored 11 of her 20 points in the first quarter alone, making 2-of-3 shots from beyond the arc and 5-of-6 at the free throw line.
Texas (3-0) outscored the Owls 18-8 in the second quarter to take a 32-28 lead into halftime. The Longhorns carried that momentum into the third period, limiting the Owls to just two points while extending their lead to 46-30 entering the fourth quarter. Rice finished strong with 17 fourth quarter points but a 21 percent shooting half created a hole too big to climb.
Rainey, a sophomore from Fairview, Texas, finished one point shy of her career-high by making 5-of-8 shots from the field and 8-of-12 at the free throw line in 31 minutes of action. Sophomore Wendy Knight contributed 8 points while making the first start of her Rice career.
The Longhorns had three players score in double-figures, led by junior guard Brianna Taylor's 17 points. Sophomore guard Brooke McCarty chipped in 11 points while freshman guard Lashann Higgs scored 10 points. Texas shot 47 percent from the field compared to a 33 percent clip from the Owls while the Longhorns also won the battle in the paint (46-12), points off turnovers (27-7) and bench scoring (30-12).
Texas head coach Karen Aston was complimentary of the Owls' performance following the game and believes Rice is head in the right direction.
"They (Rice) played, for a large portion of the game, better than we did," Aston said. "I give them an enormous amount of credit. Tina is doing a great job with them and they're going to make a lot of progress as the season goes along, they already have from the first couple of games."
The Owls will be in search of their first win of the season when they travel to Lake Charles, La. on Wednesday, Nov. 25 to face McNeese State. That contest is scheduled for a noon tip-off.