Comeback Not Enough as WBB Falls to Rice in OT
Jeter and Porter Post Double-Doubles in Battle Down Low
HOUSTON -- In what appears to be the making of a legitimate intrastate rivalry, Rice and the North Texas basketball team faced off Sunday afternoon at Tudor Fieldhouse. It was a game neither team could afford to lose, and in the end it took an additional five minutes to decide the winner, but the Owls overcame a charged second half comeback by the Mean Green for a 58-55 overtime victory.
Senior center Christal Porter hit the go-ahead jumper with 40 seconds left in overtime to give Rice a 57-55 lead and, ultimately, a three-point win. Porter led all players with 20 points and 15 rebounds; it was her fifth double-double of the season.
It was a bruising battle underneath all day, with Mean Green redshirt sophomore forward Eboniey Jeter nearly matching Porter blow for blow. Jeter finished the game with 10 points and 12 rebounds for her third career double-double, and second consecutive game with double-digit boards.
"Jeets had a really good day," head coach Mike Petersen said. "She was a little rocky at the start, but in the second half she was very good defensively and was really important for us to get back in the game."
The Owls led by as many as 11 in the second half, when senior guard Nakachi Maduka hit a jumper to extend the Rice lead to 40-29 with 11:50 remaining. But North Texas stormed back with a 15-2 run over the next 8:20 for a 44-42 lead with 2:30 left in the game.
With Rice trailing 48-46 in the final minute, junior forward Alyssa Lang hit a jumper to tie things up and send the contest to overtime. Lang was second on the team with 15 points on 3-6 shooting from the field and a 9-10 performance from the foul line. Meanwhile, senior forward Briesha Wynn scored a team-high 17 points on 8-18 shooting from the field.
"We just refocused a little bit and executed better on offense," Petersen explained about his team's mindset in the last few minutes of regulation. "I thought our battle was very good, but down the stretch we didn't do a good job of controlling Porter or Lang."
With the win, the Owls improve to 2-6 in Conference USA play and move into 12th in the standings. Meanwhile, the Mean Green fall to 1-7 in C-USA play and drop to 13th. The top 12 teams qualify for the conference tournament, while the bottom two do not, so this game was undoubtedly curcial in that respect.
North Texas' next game will be February 5 at the Super Pit against Western Kentucky. Even though the Lady Toppers are 18-4 on the season, they have lost two out of their three games in C-USA play.