HOUSTON - Rice junior guard Maya Hawkins scored a season-high 21 points and the Owls as a team knocked down a season-best seven three-pointers in a 62-59 setback to the Houston Cougars Saturday evening at Tudor Fieldhouse.
The Owls (0-7) led for 26 of the game's 40 minutes but an 11-2 run by the Cougars (2-5) in the final 4:49 of the fourth quarter was the difference. Rice led 59-58 with under a minute left in regulation but a three-pointer out of the corner from Marche' Amerson proved to be the game-winner.
"That was a hard-fought game by both teams," Rice head coach Tina Langley said. "I'm proud of the effort of our team and I'm excited to see where we go moving forward. I think the more games were in like this the more they're going to see that they're so close and that we're going to get there."
Hawkins led all players in scoring with her 21 points, which included a 5-of-11 performance from beyond the arc. The five three-point makes were just one off her career-high in a single game. Hawkins also orchestrated a Rice offense that shot 44 percent from the field and a 37 percent clip from beyond the arc. The Owls also made a season-high 16 free throws and shot a season-best 73 percent from the charity stripe.
"Maya had a fantastic game," Langley said. "She's been working incredibly hard in practice, staying late to get extra shots, and that really showed tonight. She did a great job with the pace and handling their pressure and then obviously stepped up big for us on the offensive end."
In total, five different Owls scored seven or more points including nine points off the bench from senior forward Megan Palmer.
The Cougars had three players score in double figures led by 15 points from Amerson off the bench. Houston outscored the Owls in points in the paint (26-18) and outrebounded Rice 43-27.
After the Cougars took the opening quarter 19-14, Rice responded by outscoring Houston 20-13 in the second period to take a 34-32 lead into halftime. The Owls opened the quarter with an 11-0 run and extended their lead to as large as 30-22 with 4:32 remaining in the period.
That Rice momentum carried over to the second half where the Owls outscored the Cougars 9-2 in the first five minutes of the third quarter to grab a 43-34 advantage at the 5:08 mark on a Hawkins three-pointer.
Houston however outscored the Owls 21-11 in the fourth quarter and had a 10-4 advantage in points off turnovers.
The Owls will not play their next game until Dec. 17 when they travel to Huntsville to take on the Bearkats at 6:30 p.m.