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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Lowe's Senior CLASS, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.

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Erica Ogwumike and Gabby Stanton lead Rice to big win over WKU

Posted: February 10, 2018 -- 5:55 pm CST.
HOUSTON, TX (Tudor Fieldhouse) -- The Rice Owls women's basketball bounced back Saturday afternoon with one of their best games all season in a 73-58 win over the WKU (Western Kentucky University Lady Hilltoppers). Wednesday night, in the Owls' previous game, Rice lost at La Tech by 20 points (75-55). However, Saturday afternoon was completely different in a match-up between two of the top three (UAB) teams in Conference USA.

Final stats: Rice 73, WKU 58

"We responded really well to our game against La Tech," said Owls junior guard Gabrielle (Gabby) Stanton. "We talked about how we're gonna regroup and come out and practice harder; and, that's what we did. We came out and had a great practice. We shared the ball really well.

"We really just played as a team; and, that's our brand of Rice basketball. That's what we did today. Got a big win."

Erica Ogwumike led the way with 19 points and 15 rebounds. Ogwumike made 9 of her 16 field goal attempts and added three assists in 38 minutes of game action.

Stanton added 18 points (6 of 8 field goal shooting) and three assists.

The Owls led WKU 10-6 before WKU scored 10 straight points to lead 16-10 with 1:26 left in the first quarter. However, Owls junior Lauren Grigsby converted a four-point play and added two more free throws to pull the Owls within two points (18-16) at the end of the first quarter.

Olivia Ogwumike sank a three-point shot to start the scoring in the second quarter. Owls' freshman Sydne Wiggins followed with another three-point bucket for a 22-18 lead. WKU answered with 5 straight points to lead 23-22; however, four different Owls scored baskets in an 8-0 run to put the Owls ahead 30-23 with 5:39 remaining in the opening half.

Once again, WKU answered with 5 straight points to trim the Owls' lead to 30-28.

Rice led WKU 39-34 at halftime.

Gabby Stanton sank a three-point shot for a 42-34 Owls' lead in the third quarter. WKU cut the lead in half with four consecutive points; but, Stanton made her second three-point basket to kick start a 9-2 run for an 11 point (51-40) Owls' lead.

WKU went on a 9-2 run to pull within four points. The Owls led by six (55-49) at the end of the third quarter.

Stanton scored a lay-up to begin the fourth quarter scoring. Teammate Nicole Iademarco knocked down a three-pointer for a 60-49 Owls' lead.

WKU got as close as six in the fourth quarter; however, the Owls outscored WKU 13-4 the final 5:38 of the game to earn the 73-58 victory.

“I’m really proud of the effort and intensity our team played with today,” Rice head coach Tina Langley said. “I thought we worked very hard on the defensive end of the floor against an incredible offensive team. “We ran our schemes with confidence today on our home floor. I’m just proud of our character to come back from our previous game and to play like we did today.”

The Owls led WKU for 35 minutes and 13 seconds. Rice never trailed in the second half. The win improves Rice to 18-4 overall and 8-2 in Conference USA while WKU's record moves to 18-6, 9-2.

The Owls next two games are on the road: at C-USA leading UAB (20-3, 9-1 in C-USA) Thursday, February 15, at 6 p.m. on CUSAtv. Rice finishes the road trip in Murfreesboro, TN, Saturday, February 17, against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (15-9. 7-4), at 2 p.m. on ESPN3.

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