Rice’s 5-2 start is the team’s best mark through seven contest since the 2007-08 season. The Owls were led in scoring by junior guard Shani Rainey, who poured in a game-high 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting and made all four free throw attempts. It marked the ninth time in Rainey’s career that she accumulated at least 20 points, four of which occasions have occurred over the first seven games this season.
Senior guard Maya Hawkins chipped in an additional 11 points while recording a game-high six assists and sophomore forward Nicole Iademarco scored a season-high 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting in 25 minutes off the bench.
The 43 points allowed by the Owls was a season-low, as was the 28 percent shooting from the floor by Incarnate Word (0-6). Rice improved to 4-0 this season when outrebounding their opponent with a 40-30 advantage on Saturday. The Owls also outscored the Cardinals 24-12 in points in the paint and 15-5 in points off the bench.
“I really liked how we came out in this game,” Rice head coach Tina Langley said. “I thought our focus on both ends of the floor was very good. We got stops when we needed and we were able to score in transition, and executed in the halfcourt as well. I think the thing we’re still learning as a team is how to play with a lead. But I was pleased with how they handled it when Incarnate Word went on a run late in the game. I see us learning and growing from this experience.”
Rice stormed out to a huge lead in the first quarter by winning the opening 10 minutes 22-6. The Owls shot a sizzling 62 percent (8-of-13) from the floor in the period and made their first seven shots from the field. Rainey scored nine of her 20 points in the quarter while defensively the Owls limited the Cardinals to 13 percent shooting (2-of-16).
The Owls’ offense cooled down a bit in the second quarter to 36 percent but Rice still held a 16-point advantage and took a 34-18 lead into the locker room at halftime. In the third quarter Hawkins went on a personal 6-0 run midway through the quarter to give Rice their largest lead of the afternoon, 47-22 (4:45-3rd).
From that point on Incarnate Word went on a 10-0 run that stretched into the fourth quarter and pulled to within 47-37 of the Owls with 6:50 remaining. However, the Owls had an answer with a 13-6 closeout run of their own during which five different players registered points.
The Owls will now have a week away from in-game action before returning to the hardwood on Dec. 11 when they play at Texas Southern.