Women's Basketball

Owls Clinch a First-Round Bye with 73-63 Win at SMU

March 3, 2011

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Dallas - Jessica Kuster scored a game-high 23 points and Brianna Hypolite added 21 points to lead the Rice Owls to a 73-63 win over SMU inside Moody Coliseum. With the victory, Rice clinches one a top four seed and a first round bye in next week's (March 9-12) Conference USA tournament. The Owls are now 18-12 overall and 10-6 in C-USA, while the Mustangs are 14-15 on the season and 7-9 in C-USA action.

Kuster also had a game-high 13 rebounds for her team-leading 12th double-double of the season. The super freshman made of eight of 16 from the floor and 6-7 free throws and scored 19 points in the second-half. Kuster now has 325 rebounds on the season to rank second in Rice history.

Hypolite was 7-11 from the field and 4-5 at the charity stripe. Also in double-digits for Rice was senior Morgan Mayse with 13 points and 8 rebounds. Jessica Goswitz added 9 points, while D'Frantz Smart had a game-high 8 assists and 7 rebounds.

The Owls started strong with an early 8-3 lead with six of those points by Brianna Hypolite. SMU then outscored the Owls 12-2 for 15-10 lead, but the Owls came back on a three by Memri Carmon, a free throw from Megan Elliott, and back-to-back treys from Jessica Goswitz put Rice ahead 20-15.

The Mustangs then went on another 12-2 scoring binge to forge a 27-22 lead (4:59). Rice was able to close out the last five minutes by scoring 10 points and hold the Mustangs to two free throws.

Rice in the first 20 minutes made six of its 12 three-point attempts. The Owls were only 12-34 overall for 35.3 percent, while SMU made 40 percent (10-25) from the field. Hypolite led the Owl attack with 11 points, while Morgan Mayse added seven points.

The Owls got off to a great start in the second-half outscoring SMU 6-2 for a 38-30 lead. SMU did battle back to within three (44-41), when Kuster canned back-to-back jumpers giving the Owls breathing room.

SMU did not give up easy and was within two points at 55-53, but Hypolite answered with a trey to make it 58-53. Following two SMU free throws, Mayse canned two free throws before SMU's Raquel Christian drained a trey and Mayse countered with a bucket and two more free throws. Kuster then made two free throws following a technical foul on the SMU bench and Hypolite also made two free throws to give the Owls a 10-point margin (68-58) with 3:20 to play. As a matter of fact, Rice's last 11 points came at the free throw.

For the game, the Owls made 16 of 21 free throws (76 percent), including 14-17 in the second-half.

SMU was led by Alisha Filmore's 14 points, while Haley Day added 12 and Christian scored 10.

The Owls's will learn of their seed in the C-USA tournament following Saturday's Houston and Tulane match-up.

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