Jan. 22, 2014
GREENVILLE, N.C. - A late second half comeback bid by the Rice Owls women's basketball team fell just short in a 53-47 loss at East Carolina Wednesday evening at the Minges Coliseum.
The Owls (10-8, 3-2) trimmed an 11-point second half deficit to two points on two separate occasions but were unable to complete the comeback over the final three minutes. ECU (16-2, 4-1) won their 23rd consecutive home game dating back to last season and now own the all-time series lead over Rice, 6-5.
Rice senior forward Jessica Kuster posted her 15th double-double of the season with 11 points and a game-high 17 rebounds. It marked the 10th time this season that Kuster recorded 15 or more rebounds in a game. Kuster made only 2-of-14 shots from the field but made up for it with a 7-of-9 performance at the free throw line.
The Pirates were led in scoring by Jada Payne, who scored a game-high 17 points and 10 rebounds.
The Owls shot just 28 percent (15-of-54) for the game from the floor and 58 percent (15-of-26) at the free throw line but held the Pirates to a low percentage as well at just 30 percent from the field. Rice hurt themselves with 19 turnovers that resulted in 17 points for ECU.
Rice trailed by as much as 46-35 with 7:39 left in regulation but cut that deficit to 46-44 with a 9-0 run before ECU outscored Rice 6-3 the remaining three minutes.
Rice jumped out to an 11-4 lead in the first six minutes of the opening half behind five points from Maya Hawkins. However, ECU locked down defensively and outscored the Owls 21-8 the rest of the way to take a 25-19 lead at halftime.
The 19 points were a season-low in the opening half for the Owls, who shot just 23 percent (7-of-30) and committed 12 turnovers that resulted in 12 points for the Pirates. Nakachi Maduka led all Rice players with six points followed by five from Hawkins. Kuster was held to just two points on 0-of-5 shooting from the field.
Payne led the way for the Pirates with 10 points in the opening half on 3-of-9 shooting and eight rebounds.
The Owls will look to rebound this Saturday when they travel to Charlotte to take on the 49ers at 7 p.m. (ET).