HOUSTON - The Rice Owls women's basketball team improved to 3-1 to start the season with a 64-50 home victory over Grand Canyon at Tudor Fieldhouse Tuesday evening, and in the process secured their best start to a season since the 2008-09 campaign.
Rice (3-1) limited Grand Canyon (1-2) to just 31 percent shooting from the field while placing three players in double-figure scoring, led by a game-high 22 points from junior guard Shani Rainey. The Fairfield, Texas native scored 20 of her 22 points in the second half and finished the evening 7-of-12 (2-of-4 from three-point territory) from the floor and made 6-of-8 at the free throw line. It marked the third 20-point performance for Rainey in four games to start the season.
Senior forward Jasmine Goodwine contributed 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting, 2-of-3 at the free throw line, and got the Owls out to a quick start offensively by scoring 11 of those points in the opening half. Sophomore forward Lexie Ducat came close to a double-double for the Owls with 10 points and eight rebounds in 29 minutes of action.
The Owls won the battle down low all night, outrebounding the Lopes 43-33 and outscoring GCU 30-10 in points in the paint.
"We're proud of this win, especially since this is our third game in seven days," Rice head coach Tina Langley said afterwards. "You could tell that watching us tonight. We've got to be a little bit of a tougher team in that regard, but on the defensive end we communicated well and did some things that gave us a chance to win the game and really had some players step up big time for us."
The Owls outscored the Lopes 17-5 in the opening quarter with a suffocating defense that allowed just 1-of-15 shooting from the field (7 percent) while Rice shot 40 percent from the floor themselves. Both teams combined to make just 8-of-26 shots in the second quarter but Rice still took a 26-20 advantage going into the half.
Rice came out strong in the second half by pushing the lead to 34-23 with an 8-0 run, spearheaded by a personal 6-0 spurt from Rainey. The Owls outscored the Lopes 14-2 in points in the paint in the third quarter alone and took a 44-35 lead into the final period. Rainey and the Owls put the game away in the fourth with a 20-point quarter, their biggest of the night, and outscored GCU 17-10 the final 8:34.
The Owls will have a few days off during the Thanksgiving holiday before traveling to Stillwater, Okla. to face the Oklahoma State Cowgirls on Saturday at 1 p.m.