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

Women's Basketball

Women's Basketball Hosts Chicago State

Dec. 11, 2012

Chicago State (1-6, 0-0 Great West) at Rice Owls (3-4, 0-0 C-USA)

Game 8 • Thursday, December 13, 2012 • 7 p.m.

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

Series Record: Rice leads 1-0

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Owls Continue Holiday Homestand With Chicago State

Chicago State, who has just accepted an invitation to the Western Athletic Conference for 2013-14, visits Tudor Fieldhouse as Rice exits its 12-day hiatus for finals. The Owls picked up a 60-51 comeback win over McNeese State in their last game, coming back from 11 points down to win the game, led by a 24 point, 14 rebound performance by Megan Palmer. Rice, who sits at 3-4 on the season, looks to even its mark against Chicago State.

Briefly On The Owls

• Rice erased an 11-point deficit to defeat McNeese State 60-51, the Owls' largest comeback since Feb. 28, 2008 against Marshall.

• The Owls are on the third game of a seven game-homestand that spans from Nov. 27 to Dec. 30. Rice is also in the third game of a 13 game stretch that has 12 games in the state of Texas.

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

Jessica Kuster is third in C-USA in scoring and second in rebounding and is only one of two players in C-USA to have averaged a double double this season.

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

• Rice has played the 19th-toughest schedule in the nation, according to's RPI calculations, and ranks 74th in the RPI.

Rice vs. Chicago State

Rice has only met the WAC-bound Cougars once, a 77-50 Owl victory in Chicago in 2011-12, a game scheduled to allow current Rice student assistant coach D'Frantz Smart to play in her hometown. The Cougars are no strangers to Houston, having shared a conference with Houston Baptist, since 2009-10, and are 3-0 in the Bayou City.

Owls Engineer A Comeback

Rice came back from down 31-20 to defeat McNeese State 60-51 on Dec. 1, the largest comeback for the Owls since Feb. 28, 2008, when the Owls fought back from a 25-13 deficit to defeat Marshall 68-64. In the Dec. 1 game, the Owls used an 11-0 run to take the lead in the second half.

Rice Making FTs

Rice leads Conference USA in Free Throw Percentage at .698, with six of the 10 Rice players who have shot free throws making shots at a 69.2% rate or better. The Owls hit eight of their last nine free throws against McNeese State to seal the 60-51 victory.

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 One Of The Best Below-.500 Teams In The RPI

According to, Rice ranks 74th in their RPI projection, behind only two other sub-.500 squads: Central Michigan (3-4), who lost to No. 15 Purdue, No. 5 Notre Dame, Green Bay (No. 2 Mid-Major) and Northwestern and Georgia Tech (3-5), who lost to No. 13 Tennessee, Syracuse (receiving votes), No. 15 Purdue, No. 6 Georgia and No. 4 Duke.

Rice Against Top Mid-Majors

Rice has faced two teams ranked in the most recent edition (Dec. 4) of the Mid-Major poll. UALR, who defeated Rice on Nov. 24, is ranked 22nd in the poll, and McNeese State, who Rice beat on Dec. 1, is ranked 23rd. Lamar, who Rice is slated to play on Dec. 30 is receiving vots in the poll. Rice, as a member of Conference USA, is not eligible for the poll.

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 Chicago State (Nov. 18, 2011)

HOUSTON- Jessica Kuster registered a double-double with 29 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Rice Owls to a 77-50 victory over Chicago State. It was a homecoming game for Rice point guard D'Frantz Smart of Chicago's Whitney Young H.S. Smart finished the evening with 5 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, and 8 steals. Rice rolled out to a 14-2 lead and soon increased it to 26-9 as Kuster made her first six field goals for 12 points to outscore the Cougars. The Owls were up 32-11 at 9:56, but the Cougars closed out the half by outscoring Rice 15 to 5. The Cougars cut the score to within 8 early in the second half at 39-31, but the Owls went on a 12-0 run for a 51-31 commanding lead.

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

Rice is coming back from a 12-day break after defeating McNeese State on Dec. 1 which accomodated 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

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 29-15 since 2009-10 at Tudor Fieldhouse. The Owls are 11-6 in their home since the start of 2011-12.

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