Dec. 20, 2013
HOUSTON, Texas – Senior forward Jessica Kuster scored a team-high 18 points and pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds but it was not enough to overcome a balanced scoring attack from the Houston Cougars in a 67-54 afternoon home loss at Tudor Fieldhouse on Friday.
The Owls (5-6) were playing their first game in 15 days after an extended break for finals and the rust showed on the offensive end where Rice shot just 32 percent for the game (21-of-66) and committed 16 turnovers. Houston (4-7) ended a three-game losing streak with the victory and shot 43 percent while outrebounding the Owls 46-35.
Rice went without a made three-point field goal (0-for-9) for the first time since Feb. 10, 2013 when the Cougars also held the Owls without a long distance make.
Houston was led in scoring by Demetria Foreman, who scored a game-high 20 points on 6-of-16 shooting and a 7-of-8 performance at the free throw line. She was joined in double-figure scoring by Te’onna Campbell (13 points-11 rebounds), Yasmeen Thompson (12 points-9 rebounds) and Marche’ Amerson (12 points).
The Owls extended a halftime lead to 34-28 (the largest of the afternoon) with 15:37 remaining in the game but Houston would put on the clamps the rest of the way defensively and outscored Rice 39-20 the final 15 minutes.
The Rice bench won the battle of the bench scoring for a fifth straight game by outscoring the Cougars 30-8 and have outscored their opponents bench 134-70 over that same span.
Rice freshman guard Maya Hawkins made her collegiate debut after missing the first 10 games of the season with a knee injury. The Mansfield, Texas native scored two points and added an assist in five minutes off the bench.
Rice was able to overcome a slow offensive start in the early stages of the first half, rallying from an 11-2 deficit to close strong and take a 26-24 lead into halftime. Kuster recorded a game-high eight points and nine rebounds in the first 20 minutes and gave Rice their first lead of the afternoon when she came up with a steal near midcourt and went coast-to-coast for a layup as the halftime buzzer went off.
The Owls held the Cougars to just 31 percent shooting in the first half and forced 14 turnovers, which Rice converted into 12 points. Yasmeen Thompson led all Cougars with seven points in the first half.
Rice will now have a nine-day break for the holidays before returning to action on Dec. 29 when they travel to Beaumont to face the Lamar Lady Cardinals at 2 p.m.