Jan. 23, 2013
UTEP Miners (14-2, 2-1 C-USA) at Rice Owls (9-8, 1-3 C-USA)
Game 18 Thursday, January 24, 2013 7 p.m.
Houston, Texas Tudor Fieldhouse (5,750)
Audio: RiceOwls.com TV: None
Series Record: Rice leads 23-13
El Paso, Texas
Kuster Cans 22 as Rice Upsets UTEP 52-48 in El Paso
Sophomore Jessica Kuster scored a game-high 22 points to lead the Rice Owls women's basketball squad to a 52-48 upset win over Conference USA's first place UTEP Miners Sunday afternoon in front of 6,421 fans inside the Don Haskins Center.
Owls Host Nationally-Recognized UTEP
Rice hosts UTEP, who are recieving votes in the AP Top 25 poll and ranked 8th in ESPN Mid-Major Poll, at Tudor Fieldhouse. This is the first meeting between the teams since Rice ended UTEP's quest for a perfect C-USA season in El Paso last year. The Owls have dropped two straight games, but are 8-2 at home this season, including posting a seven-game home win streak earlier this season. The Miners would rank 29th in the AP Poll, if the rankings extended that far.
Briefly On The Owls
Jessica Kuster is the only player in C-USA who is averaging a double double and leads the league in double doubles this season
Kuster needs three blocks to tie Johnetta Hayes for second on Rice's career list and needs seven rebounds to tie Pennie Goff on Rice's career list
Christal Porter is averaging 11.8 points per game and shooting .536 from the field in C-USA play
This is the final game of a 13-game stretch that saw the Owls play 12 games in the state of Texas. The Owls have only left the state once since Nov. 24.
Rice ranked 119th in the RPI in the most recent report, which ranks ahead of schools such as Texas, Alabama and TCU
Rice has outscored its last two opponents 34-14 in second chance points
Rice vs. UTEP
Rice spoiled UTEP's perfect C-USA season on Senior Day last season, winning 52-48, and giving UTEP their only loss in conference play last year. The Owls and Miners have split their last six meetings, dating back to 2009-10. Rice has won two of the last three meetings between the schools in Tudor Fieldhouse, despite falling to UTEP 45-41 at home last season.
Rice's Seven Game Home Win Streak Was 8th In School History
Rice won seven consecutive home games from Dec. 1 to Jan. 13, which was the 8th-longest home winning streak in Rice school history when it was snapped on Jan. 17. The school record was 17 consecutive wins, from 1996-99.
Rice Finishes Strong Against Texas A&M
Rice fell down early to Texas A&M, but outscored the No. 24 team in the nation 44-43 over the last 26:54 of the game. Rice had a 10-2 run between halves to help them in the overall 44-43 run. Jessica Kuster had 13 points in the last 26:54, and the Owls matched the Aggies over the course of the game with 37 total rebounds.
Owls Tie Best Mark Entering Conference Play
Rice tied the school record for wins entering conference play. The Owls have won eight games before conference play five times in their history.
Year Rec. Finish Remaining Non-Conference Play
1988-89 8-1 14-13 1-0 vs. UMKC in Mar.
1993-94 8-4 13-14 0-1 SWC Tourn.
2012-13 8-5 -- C-USA Tourn.
1999-00 8-5 22-10 3-0 WAC Tourn., 1-1 NCAA
2010-11 8-6 18-14 0-1 C-USA Tourn., 0-1 WNIT
Rice posted a 10-2 non-conference record in 1992-93, but was 7-2 at the time of its conference opener
A December To Remember
Rice went 6-0 in the month of December, giving the Owls their first perfect December in program history. The Owls' last perfect month was February 2005, when the Owls went 7-0.
Owls' Six-Game Win Streak Ranked As Division I's 12th-Best
Rice has won six consecutive games from Dec. 1 to Dec. 30, which was the 12th-longest active Division I winning streak when it was snapped on Jan. 1 at Texas A&M. It was Rice's longest winning streak since a nine game win streak in 2005-06.
Kuster Named College Sports Madness C-USA Player of the Week (Dec. 31)
Jessica Kuster averaged 19.5 points, 14.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists while posting her 34th and 35th career double-doubles in two Rice victories to be named C-USA Player of the Week by College Sports Madness on Dec. 31. She scored 18 points against UTPA, shooting 50% from the floor in the Rice blowout win. She helped Rice come back from 13 down to beat Lamar, scoring 21 points and grabbing 18 rebounds, the second-most in the league this season, next to her 19 rebounds at Texas State. She played the entire duration of the game against Lamar. She rebounded 32% of all misses off of the opposing glass in those two games.
Rice played three of the last four schools to win a national championship in 2012-13, having lost to 2007 and 2008 champion Tennessee on Nov. 15, 2012 champion Baylor on Nov. 27 and 2011 champion Texas A&M on Jan. 1. Rice does not play UConn, who won the 2009 and 2010 titles.
Rice has had three come-from-behind (6+ points down) wins this season, coming back from down 31-20 to defeat McNeese State on Dec. 1, erasing a 31-22 deficit against UTSA on Dec. 20, and battling back from a 48-35 disadvantage to beat Lamar on Dec. 30. The Owls' 13-point comeback on Dec. 30 was the largest Rice comeback since Jan. 11, 2007, when Rice came back from down 54-40 against Marshall.
Rice Ranks Second In C-USA In RPI
Rice ranks 104th nationally and second in C-USA in the RPI as of the most recent report (Jan. 6), behind UTEP. Nationally, Rice ranks ahead of other notable schools such as Texas, Utah, Arizona and TCU.
Palmer Named C-USA Freshman Of The Week (Dec. 17)
Megan Palmer was named C-USA Freshman of the Week for averaging 17 points and nine rebounds in two Owl victories. She had her second straight double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds against Chicago State, in just 27 minutes of play, then posted a 20 point, seven rebound, three assist and four block performance against Stephen F. Austin, picking up the first four blocks of her career.
Rice is 34-16 since 2009-10 at Tudor Fieldhouse. The Owls were 13-3 at home in the calendar year of 2012 and 8-2 in the 2012-13 season.
Palmer Making An Impact
Megan Palmer scored 24 points against McNeese State, the most points scored by a Rice freshman since Dec. 30, 2010 when Jessica Kuster scored 26 at Texas State. She is averaging 11.1 points per game, which would be the most for a Rice freshman since Kuster in 2010-11 and the second-most in the Greg Williams era (since 2005-06).
Rice Against Top Mid-Majors
Rice has faced two ranked in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major poll. UALR, who defeated Rice on Nov. 24, is currently ranked 20th in the poll, and McNeese State, who Rice beat on Dec. 1 was ranked 17th at the time.
Can't Stop Griner...But Everyone Else?
Rice fell to No. 3 Baylor on Nov. 27, in large part due to national player of the year Brittney Griner. The Bears outscored Rice 59-22 when Griner was on the court, but the Bears only were a possesion better than Rice at 30-27, during the nearly 18 minutes Griner was on the bench.
Griner's Return To Houston
Baylor senior Brittney Griner, a native of Houston, returned home on Nov. 27 with her Bear teammates to take on the Owls at Tudor Fieldhouse, an 89-49 victory for No. 3 Baylor. The teams played in front of a Tudor Fieldhouse record 2,318 fans.
Playing Into March
Since entering C-USA in 2005-06, Rice, along with Tulane, have the most postseason appearances of all C-USA schools, having reached the postseason in four seasons (2006, 2006, 2011, 2012 for Rice). Memphis and SMU have reached the postseason three times since 2005-06, and 11 of the 12 C-USA schools have reached the postseason at least once.
Baylor Game Sets Attendance Record
The Tudor Fieldhouse attendance record for women's basketball was set on Nov. 27, when No. 3 Baylor visited the Owls and 2,318 fans attended. It was the largest Rice home crowd for women's basketball since Feb. 22, 1998, when a school-record 3,704 fans came to Autry Court to see Rice upset No. 16 Hawai'i 76-71.
Eyes On The Owls
On Nov. 15, 10,981 fans saw the Rice Owls take on Tennessee in Thompson-Boling Arena, the largest crowd to watch a Rice women's basketball game since Nov. 22, 2004, when 11,876 fans saw Rice take on Texas Tech.
O wls Start Strong Against Lady Vols
Despite falling in the contest 101-48, Rice scared No. 24 Tennessee, leading the Lady Vols until the 9:05 mark of the first half. Rice and Tennessee traded baskets for the first three possessions, before the Owls took the lead at 8-6 with 17:25 remaining in the first half. The Owls led by as much as 6, at 22-16. Jessica Kuster at several points had as many points as the entire Lady Vol team, starting the game 5-for-5 with 12 points. The Lady Vols took the lead at 23-22 with a Cierra Burdick jumper and did not trail afterwards.
Kuster Reaches 1,000 Points
Jessica Kuster became the 18th Rice player to reach 1,000 points in a career with 16 points against Tennessee on Nov. 15. She is the eighth Rice player to have reached the 1,000 point plateau in her junior season. Morgan Mayse was the last Rice player to reach 1,000 points, accomplishing the feat in 2010-11. At two games into her 3rd season, she is the quickest Rice player to reach 1,000 points.
Rice plays seven teams from last season's NCAA Tournament field a total of eight times, and has a total of 11 games against postseason participants from a year ago. Prairie View A&M, Tennessee, UALR, Baylor, McNeese St., Texas A&M, and UTEP reached the NCAA Tournament in 2011-12
Rice Ninth-Youngest Team In Division I
Rice is tied for the ninth-youngest team in Division 1 in terms of years of senior college experience. The Owls have 13 years of experience among the 12 players on the roster, the youngest average experience in C-USA.
Youngest Teams In Division I (By Years of Collegiate Experience)
Rank School Avg. Exp. Players
1. San Jose State .444 4 9
2. Temple .727 8 11
Southern Illinois .727 8 11
4. Clemson .833 10 12
Florida .909 10 11
6. Dayton 1.000 12 12
Southern Miss 1.091 12 11
Tennessee 1.091 12 11
9. Rhode Island 1.000 13 13
Cal State Fullerton 1.000 13 13
Rice 1.083 13 12
Rice At Tennessee In Historic Game
On Nov. 15, Rice opened a new era in women's basketball, as the Owls faced Tennessee in the Lady Vols' first home game since 1973 with someone other than Pat Summitt coaching the team. Holly Warlick, a long-time Summit assistant and player, takes over the helm for the Lady Vols. Summit, one of the legends of collegiate athletics, won six national titles before stepping down after 2011-12 due to her battle with Alzheimer's.
For the second consecutive year, Rice took a senior to her hometown to play a non-conference game. Jessica Goswitz of Knoxville's Webb School played in front of 60 friends and family members at Tennessee on Nov. 15. D'Frantz Smart, currently a student assistant for the Owls, played in front of her family at Chicago State last season, a 77-50 win for the Owls. The product of Chicago's Whitney Young High School had five assists and eight steals in that game. All of Rice's other seniors since 2010-11 have been from Texas.
Kuster Named Preseason Player of the Year
Rice junior Jessica Kuster was named C-USA Preseason Player of the Year, as voted upon by the league's coaches. The selection is Kuster's second straight appearance on the Preseason All-C-USA Team. Kuster is the first Rice player to be named C-USA Preseason Player of the Year since Lauren Neaves prior to the 2005-06 season. In the same poll, the Owls were picked to finish fourth in the league by the league's coaches.
Rice On The TV
Rice plays two games on television this year. The Feb. 10 game against Houston is televised on Fox Sports Net, and the Feb. 28 game at UTEP is on CBS Sports Network.
The First Time Since
Accomplishments Rice has acheived in 2012-13 for the first time since: (2012-13 accomplishment)
2010-11: Won eight games prior to conference play (8-5)
2009-10: Had a 6+ game home winning streak (Seven, Dec. 1-Current)
2007-08: Came back from 11+ points down to win a game (McNeese St., Dec. 1)
2005-06: Had five or more consecutive wins (Six, Dec. 1-30), Came back from 13+ points down to win a game (Lamar, Dec. 30)
2004-05: Had a perfect month (December, 6-0), Had 10,981+ attend a Rice game (at Tennessee, Nov. 15)
1997-98: Had 2,318+ attend a Rice home game (Baylor, Nov. 27)
First: Perfect December (6-0)
Scoreboard Watching - Weekly Updates from Rice's Non-Conference Opponents
No. 1 Baylor beat Kansas St. and West Virginia ... No. 9 Tennessee moved to 6-0 in SEC play after beating Alabama and Auburn ... No. 16 Texas A&M won at No. 14 Georgia ... UALR is still ranked 20th in the mid-major poll ... Lamar leads the Southland after McNeese State ... Tennessee Tech is 4-2 in OVC play and in third place ... UTSA is on a three game winning streak in WAC play after beating Texas State