LAKE CHARLES, La. - Rice sophomore Shani Rainey registered the Owls' first double-double of the season with 17 points and 11 rebounds but turnovers proved costly in a 61-53 loss at McNeese State Wednesday afternoon.
After falling behind by as much as 13 points with 4:42 left in the game, the Owls (0-4) rallied to cut the deficit to 57-52 with 1:17 to go. However, the Owls were unable to get a couple of three-pointers to drop in the final minute and McNeese (3-1) made free throws to clinch the victory.
"We're a really young team," Rice head coach Tina Langley said. "I'm proud of the way they continue to battle throughout the game for 40 minutes and that gave us a chance there at the end."
The Owls committed a season-high 29 turnovers that resulted in a 25-5 points off turnovers advantage for the Cowgirls. Rice outshot (32-30 percent) the Cowgirls and had more second chance points (16-10). McNeese (3-1) was led in scoring by senior guard Allison Baggett, who poured in a game-high 20 points on 9-of-19 shooting from the field.
Rainey led the Owls in scoring for the third time in four games this season and collected a career-high 11 rebounds for her first career double-double. The Fairview, Texas native also tied a career-high with two blocks in 34 minutes of action.
"I'm really proud of what Shani is doing right now," Langley said. "She's spending a lot of time in the gym individually and you can see that transferring over into the games."
The Owls also got 12 points from junior Maya Hawkins, who scored all her points on four made three-pointers, and seven points off the bench from freshman guard Gabrielle Stanton.
Rice outscored McNeese 13-10 in the opening quarter but the Cowgirls used a 12-5 run to take a 24-23 lead going into halftime. The Cowgirls opened up a 37-31 lead midway through the third quarter but consecutive three-pointers from Rainey and Hawkins knotted the game at 37-37 with 3:04 left in the period. McNeese returned the favor with two trifectas of their own to take a 43-37 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Baggett would then score eight consecutive points for the Cowgirls to take a 51-39 lead with 5:59 to go. Hawkins brought the Owls to within 57-52 with just over a minute to go with a pair of three-pointers but was unable to get any closer.
Rice will return from Thanksgiving to host Harvard on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Tudor Fieldhouse.