Nov. 23, 2013
EAST LANSING, Michigan – Despite a valiant effort on the road, the Rice Owls women’s basketball team was unable to pull off an upset of No. 21 Michigan State, falling 81-68 at the Breslin Center after hanging with one of the nation’s top teams for nearly 30 minutes.
Rice (3-3) trailed just 32-30 at halftime and trailed 57-51 with nine minutes remaining in the second half before the Spartans (4-1) began to pull away.
The Owls had four players score in double-figures for the first time since Dec. 13, 2012 against Chicago State, including a team-best 19 points from senior forward Jessica Kuster. The San Antonio, Texas native recorded her sixth straight double-double with the 19 points and game-high 13 rebounds. Kuster moved into fifth place in Rice history on the all-time scoring list, surpassing Pennie Goff’s (1981-84) 1,564 career points with 1,575 career points and counting.
Rice also received good performances from Christal Porter (12 points), Reem Moussa (11 points) and Megan Palmer (10 points). As a team the Owls shot the ball 50 percent or better for a second straight game and connected on a season0high six made three-pointers. The Owls even outrebounded the Spartans 31-29 but a 54-30 points in the paint differential and 32 points off Rice turnovers proved to be the difference.
Kuster picked up right where she left off on Thursday, leading all players with 13 points and seven rebounds in the first half against the Spartans. She scored the final six points of the half by converting a three-point play off a steal and coast-to-coast layup and then followed with a made three-pointer from the top of the arch with just six seconds left before halftime.
The two teams played to nine ties and the lead changed hands on eight different occasions in perhaps the most well-rounded half of basketball this season by the Owls.
Rice out-rebounded the Spartans 21-16 in the opening half and held MSU to just 43 percent shooting from the field, while the Owls shot a respectable 40 percent from the floor. Porter helped Kuster in the scoring column with 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting and had five rebounds.
The Owls will return home on Tuesday when they host Sam Houston State at 7 p.m. at Tudor Fieldhouse.