WBB Hosts Top 20 Mid-Major McNeese State

Megan Palmer ranks in the top 5 in points and rebounds for C-USA freshmen

Nov. 30, 2012

McNeese St Cowgirls (4-2, 0-0 SLC) at Rice Owls (2-4, 0-0 C-USA)

Game 7 • Saturday, December 1, 2012 • 1 p.m.

Houston, Texas • Tudor Fieldhouse (5,750)
Audio: RiceOwls.com • TV: None

Series Record: Rice leads 4-2

Game NotesGet Acrobat Reader | Video | Audio | Gametracker | Twitter

Rice Continues Seven Game Homestand With McNeese State

Rice hosts McNeese State, who is currently ranked 17th among mid-majors, in the second game of a seven game homestand. The Cowgirls, who are two-time defending Southland Conference Tournament Champion, face the Owls for the first time since 2004-05. The Owls hosted a Tudor Fieldhouse-record crowd and No. 3 Baylor in its last game, falling 89-49 to the defending national champions, led by Houston native Brittney Griner.

Briefly On The Owls

Jessica Kuster was named C-USA Preseason Player of the Year

• The Owls are on the second of a seven game-homestand that spans from Nov. 27 to Dec. 30. Rice plays 12 of its next 13 games in the state of Texas.

Jessica Kuster is third in C-USA in scoring and third in rebounding

Megan Palmer is fifth in points and second in rebounds among C-USA freshmen

• Despite losing to Baylor, the Bears were only a possession better than Rice (30-27) while Brittney Griner was on the bench

• The Nov. 27 game against Baylor set the Tudor Fieldhouse attendance mark for women's basketball and was the largest home women's basketball crowd since Feb. 22, 1998 vs. Hawaii.

Rice vs. McNeese State

The two schools, separated by only 133 miles, have only met six times in history and only the second time since 1996-97. The Owls are 3-0 against the Cowgirls at home, with the most recent meeting coming in 2004, a 62-43 win for Rice in the Preseason WNIT at Autry Court.

McNeese Ranked Among Mid-Majors

McNeese State, at 4-2, is ranked 17th in the most recent edition (Nov. 27) of the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major poll. UALR, who defeated Rice on Nov. 24, is ranked 24th in the poll. Rice, as a member of Conference USA, is not eligible for the poll.

Breast Cancer Awareness On Dec. 1

The Owls support breast cancer awareness in partnership with the Avon Blue Bonnet Crusaders on Dec. 1 against McNeese State. Pink adhesive notes with names of people who have battled breast cancer written on it are to be placed in the lobby of Tudor Fieldhouse on game day.

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.

Championship Pedigree

Rice plays 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 visits Houston for this game and 2011 champion Texas A&M hosts Rice on Jan. 1. Rice does not play UConn, who won the 2009 and 2010 titles.

Playing Into March

Since entering C-USA in 2005-06, Rice has the most postseason appearances of any C-USA school, having reached the postseason in four seasons (2006, 2006, 2011, 2012). Memphis, SMU, and Tulane have reached the postseason three times since 2005-06, and 11 of the 12 C-USA schools have reached the postseason at least once.

Last Time Against McNeese (Nov. 14, 2010)

HOUSTON- Rice senior Michelle Woods recorded a double-double to lead the Owls to a season-opening Preseason WNIT first round victory over McNeese State, Friday at Autry Court. Rice opened the game sluggish, trading scores with the Cowgirls early in the first half. A jumper from Annie Peck with 13 minutes remaining gave Rice the lead for good. Peck's score prompted a Rice 11-4 run, and the Owls led by as much as 12 points in the first period. Woods scored 10 first-half points and grabbed 11 of her career-high 18 rebounds in the first half. Rice held on to a 28-24 lead at the break. Rice's defense was the key in the second half, holding McNeese State to just 14.3 percent shooting and 19 points. The Lady Owls were all over the boards, grabbing 31 rebounds in the second period. Rice increased its lead to 19 points midway through the second half en route to shooting 34 percent from the field..

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. 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.

The Finals Countdown

After this game, Rice takes a 12-day break before facing Chicago State on Dec. 13 to accomodate the scholar-athletes' final exams for the fall semester.

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.

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

SIU-Carbondale .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

CS Fullerton 1.000 13 13

Rice 1.083 13 12

Road Warriors

The Owls just finished a four-game, four-city road trip, and have had at least a four-city, four-game road swing every year since 2006-07:

2012-13 1-3 Tennessee, Tennessee Tech, Texas State, UALR

2011-12 1-3 Stephen F. Austin, UTSA, Lamar, UAB

2010-11 3-1 UALR, HBU, Northwestern State, Texas State

2009-10 1-3 SMU, Tulsa, UCF, Southern Miss

2008-09 1-4 Hofstra, Lafayette, Tenn.-Martin (neutral), Mississippi, UTSA

2007-08 2-2 Tulane, UTEP, SMU, Tulsa

2006-07 3-1 Southern Miss, UCF, SMU, Tulsa

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 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.

Senior Reward

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.

Tournament Tested

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

Autry Army

Rice is 28-15 since 2009-10 at Tudor Fieldhouse. The Owls are 10-6 in their home since the start of 2011-12.

C-USA Changing

2012-13 marks the final year of the current alignment of C-USA, which has not changed since Rice entered the league for 2005-06. C-USA adds Louisiana Tech, Old Dominion, Charlotte, UTSA, FIU and North Texas for 2012-13. Louisiana Tech won the 1982 and 1988 NCAA Championships, and has ten Final Four appearances; Old Dominion won the 1985 NCAA Championship and has three Final Four appearances; Charlotte has made nine consecutive postseason appearances; UTSA has won five conference championships since 2000; FIU has made 12 postseason appearances; and North Texas engineered one of the nation's best turnarounds in 2011-12. Houston, Memphis, SMU and UCF depart C-USA after this season to join the Big East. The league adds Middle Tennessee and Florida Atlantic for 2014-15.

Mama Taj

Rice welcomed WNBA standout Taj McWilliams-Franklin to the staff this summer, but she joined the Owls on November 5th, after finishing her season with the Minnesota Lynx, who advanced to the WNBA Finals for a second straight year. McWilliams-Franklin, nicknamed "Mama Taj," averaged 8.4 points and 5.4 rebounds, in addition to starting 33 of 34 games for the Western Conference Champions in 2012.

Moussa Represents Egypt

Reem Moussa represented Egypt in the FIBA Africa AfroBasket U18 tournament this summer. She averaged 6.7 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and had a field goal percentage of .407 for the Egyptians in six games, as they took Bronze, only losing two games in the tournament. She started three games in the tournament, and posted her tournament-high with 18 points against Tunsia.





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