Jessica Kuster.

Women's Basketball

Rice Holds Off Crusaders for 54-46 Victory

Nov. 20, 2011

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Valparaiso, Ind. - Jessica Kuster scored a game-high 15 points and snared 11 rebounds to lead Rice to hard fought 54-46 win at Valparaiso Sunday afternoon.

For Kuster, she posted her third-straight double-double and fourth of the season. Freshman Christal Porter grabbed a game and career-high 12 rebounds for Rice and she tallied 8 points as well. Senior guard D'Frantz Smart scored 10 points including five crucial points late in the contest.

With the score tied at 13-13 (13:23), the Owls proceeded to go on a 17-4 run to forge a 30-17 lead with 3:07 to play in the first half. Rice's full court press and half court defensive pressure caused fits for the Crusaders as they committed 10 turnovers and only made 8-26 from the field in the first 17 minutes.

Rice's Christal Porter scored the final four points of the half to give the Owls a 36-23 lead, tying its biggest lead of the contest at 13. In the first half, the Owls shot 44 percent (15-34) and held Valpo to only 31 percent (9-29) and 11 miscues.

Valpo's defense got tighter and held Rice to only 11 points in the first 15 minutes of the second to make it a 47-41 game. Kuster had 8 of those points and Megan Shafer hit a trey at 11:24. A three-pointer by Mallory Ladd made it a three-point game at 47-44 (4:53).

After Shafer's three-pointer the Owls were scoreless until a layup by Smart at 2:58. Smart then nailed a trey from the top of the key at 2:00 on the clock to give the Owls breathing room (52-44). Kuster then made a driving layup for a 54-46 margin.

For the game, Rice shot 39 percent from the field (23-59) including 5-13 from three-point range. Valpo shot 32 percent (19-59) but only made 2-14 from beyond the arc.

The Crusaders were led by Gina Lange's 15 points, while Ashley Varner added 12. Mallory Ladd scored 9 points with a team-high 11 rebounds.

Up Next Rice hosts Alcorn State on Wednesday. Tip off is slated for 7 p.m. inside Tudor Fieldhouse.

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