Cougars Beat Rice at the Buzzer
Dec. 3, 2014
HOUSTON, Texas - Alexia Sanders connected on a three-pointer at the buzzer of regulation to give the Houston Cougars a 59-58 victory over the Rice Owls' women's basketball team Wednesday evening at Hofheinz Pavilion.
Rice (3-3) led 58-56 with four seconds remaining after Owls' freshman Shani Rainey split a pair at the free throw line. Houston proceeded to call timeout, setting up a final play in which Sanders received a dribble handoff and was left open along the right wing and splashed home the game-winner.
"Any time you lose the game at the buzzer it's tough," Rice head coach Greg Williams said. "We had many opportunities but we missed a lot of easy shots and free throws down the stretch. We could have put the game away if we made our shots. In retrospect, we had a foul to give at the end and we probably should have used it but didn't, that's my fault. It's tough. It's a very disappointing, stunned feeling in that locker room. I thought associate head coach Jae Cross did a great job on the scout, we just didn't do things consistently. We're just not good enough right now offensively to make the type of mistakes we did."
Rainey led the Owls in scoring with 13 points while senior post Christal Porter notched her first double-double of the season with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Houston (3-3) was led in scoring by Tyler Gilbert, who scored 17 points on 8-of-13 shooting and snagged 11 rebounds for a double-double. Jessieka Palmer (14 points) also scored in double-figures.
Rice was outshot for the game, 43-37 percent, but the Owls out-rebounded Houston by a 41-32 margin and outscored the Cougars off the bench, 22-21.
Rice led by as much as seven points with 17:36 left in the second half but the offense went cold midway through the second half and allowed Houston to get back in the game. Rice trailed 54-52 with two minutes remaining until Porter tied the game with a made jumper. Then after a stop and Porter rebound, Nakachi Maduka drilled a clutch three-pointer from the left wing to give the Owls a 57-54 lead with 1:01 to go.
Gilbert narrowed the Owls' lead to 57-56 with 39 seconds remaining on a made layup. After Rainey missed the front end of a 1-and-1 at the free throw line, the freshman made up for it on the defensive end by coming up with her third steal of the night with four seconds remaining. However, another missed free throw came into play just seconds later allowing Houston the opportunity for the game-winner.
The Owls used a 7-0 run to take their largest lead of the first half, 23-20, at the 6:44 mark. Freshman Wendy Knight came off the bench and provided an immediate spark, knocking down a three-pointer and then coming up with back-to-back steals that led to Rice layups.
Behind seven points from Rainey, and a 10-4 advantage in points off turnovers, the Owls took a 29-28 lead into the locker room at halftime. The Owls also had a 3-0 advantage in made three-pointers and went a perfect 6-of-6 at the charity stripe.
Rice shot just 32 percent from the field in the opening half while the Cougars shot 42 percent. Houston did most of their damage in the paint, outscoring the Owls 20-8. Gilbert and Palmer led the Cougars with seven points apiece.
The Owls return to Tudor Fieldhouse on Saturday for their final game before the finals break and will host Stephen F. Austin for a 2 p.m. tipoff.