Jessica Kuster.

Women's Basketball

Kuster Nets 31 as Rice Pounds HBU

Nov. 16, 2011

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Houston - Sophomore Jessica Kuster was dominating with 31 points and 19 rebounds for her second double-double of the season to lead Rice (1-2) to a convincing 75-42 victory over Houston Baptist (0-3) Tuesday night in Tudor Fieldhouse.

Kuster scored 22 of Rice's first 25 points and grabbed 8 rebounds in the beginning 11:26 of the contest. So dominating was her performance, it reminded one of Forest Whitaker's character, Charles Jefferson's play on the football field, in the 80's cult classic movie, Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

Kuster was happy that her play helped the Owls garner their first win of the season.

"It was cool and mostly," commented the San Antonio product. "I've been kind of stressed, maybe taking things too seriously the last two games and today I was just having fun. It was our first first home game and we wanted to show to our fans that we're fun to watch."

Said Kuster's coach Greg Williams, "Well, she probably, without anyone saying anything to her, knows that there's a bigger load on her this year from the get go. Last year she didn't have to start early in the year, coming off the bench. Morgan (Mayse) deferred a lot of the attention early in the year, and Jessica got more publicity. She's no surprise and people are going to key their defense on her."

Remarkably enough, Kuster's output vs. HBU are not career-highs for her. Last season she tallied 35 points vs. Long Beach State and 20 rebounds vs. UAB. Tuesday's effort marked her 15th double-double of her career and when she left the game with 3:14 on the clock she had 31 of Rice's 70 points, while HBU had scored 36. She made 13-18 from the field, and added 2 assists, 3 blocks, and 4 steals to her ledger.

The Owls' swarming full court press caused the Huskies fits as they committed 19 turnovers in the first 20 minutes and enabled Rice to build a commanding 31-8 lead at the 6:23 mark. Kuster had outscored HBU 22 to 8 for that stretch of the game.

Rice began the battle by jumping out to a 17-8 lead and then went on a 14-0 run for the 31-8 margin. Greg Williams was able to substitute freely at that point. HBU kept battling though and closed the half by outscoring Rice 17 to 4 to be only down 10 at 35-25.

The Owls started strong again to begin the second half by outscoring HBU 23 to 3 for a 58-38 lead. Rice is now 2-0 all-time vs. HBU, having won last season 82-46.

Brianna Hypolite tallied 16 points for the Owls as she reached double-digit scoring for the first time this season. Also, freshman Christal Porter scored in double-digits for the first time in her career with 13 points and 9 rebounds.

"I was happy with (Brianna) Hypolite playing by far her best game of the year," stated Williams. "We need her to step up and do what she did tonight. Christal Porter is going to be a really good player for us and she's a very important player for us. She's within one rebound of a double-double, so I'm encouraged by that."

Shanice Steenholdt who scored 21 points and snared 9 boards led HBU, while Joselyn Pugh added 10 points and 8 rebounds.

Up Next Rice plays a homecoming game for Chicago native D'Frantz Smart at Chicago State on Friday at 7 p.m. and then plays at Valparaiso on Sunday at noon.

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