For the Rice women’s basketball team, it was a mixed week that started off on the wrong foot before ending it on a sweet note.
The Owls lost for just the second time in their last 14 games this past week in their 75-55 loss at Louisiana Tech on Wednesday before recovering in the form of a 73-58 victory over Conference USA-leading Western Kentucky on Saturday afternoon at home.
Playing at Louisiana Tech’s Thomas Assembly Center, the Owls were damaged by 20 turnovers, and the Lady Techsters took advantage with a 32-12 differential in points off miscues in Rice’s 20-point setback.
Tech also managed to outshoot the Owls from the field, going 61 percent.
The Lady Techsters took an 18-12 lead over the Owls in the first quarter and then shot 78 percent from the field in the second quarter to outscore Rice 17-13 and take a 35-25 halftime lead.
Tech’s Kierra Anthony scored 20 points while Alexus Malone finished with 17 and Taylor Stahl put up 14 points.
Erica Ogwumike scored 20 points to lead the Owls and Lauren Grigsby finished with 13 points off the bench in 21 minutes.
Rice managed to cut the deficit to 43-40 with 5:11 left in the third quarter before Tech went on a 9-2 surge.
Tech outscored Rice in the final quarter and the Owls could never get the deficit back into single digits.
The Owls didn’t let Wednesday’s loss get to them and they bounced back in a big way, beating conference leaders Western Kentucky on Saturday at home.
The Owls (18-4, 8-2) picked up their first win in four meetings against WKU (18-6, 9-2) by holding the top scoring offense in the conference to their second-lowest scoring output of the season, as well as their second-lowest field goal percentage of the year.
Rice led for 35 minutes and shot 53 percent from the field as a team.
The Owls remain unbeaten at home this season (10-0) and have now won 14 straight home games.
Ogwumike finished with a double-double, putting up 19 points and 15 rebounds while Gabrielle Stanton finished with 18 points. Grigsby finished with 12 points.
WKU’s Tashia Brown finished with 22 points.
Rice trailed 18-16 at the end of the first quarter before taking over.
The Owls (who sit in third place in the Conference USA standings) go from facing one conference-leading team to another as they prepare to face the UAB Blazers in a 6 p.m. contest on Thursday in Birmingham, Ala.
From there, the Owls will take on Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders at 2 p.m. Saturday in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
The Rice Owls’ struggles continued this week as they were beaten by Middle Tennessee State (94-75) on Thursday and UAB (61-56) on Saturday.
MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE
The Conference USA leaders proved to be too much as they sent Rice packing with a 94-75 loss.
Middle Tennessee State led 50-33 at the half and didn’t look back.
Connor Cashaw led the Owls with 18 points and a game-high eight rebounds while Najja Hunter put up 13 points and Ako Adams scored 12 points.
Rice got as close as 65-50 in the second half before Middle Tennessee went on a 13-2 run to put the game away.
The Blazers (16-10, 7-6) went on a 15-1 run in the final minutes of the game to stun the Owls (5-20, 2-10) on Saturday in Birmingham, Ala.
Bishop Mency and Adams each had 15 points and four rebounds while Connor Cashaw put up 13 points.
Rice trailed 27-22 at the half.
The Owls went on an 11-4 run to take their largest lead of the game at 55-46 with 3:54 left before UAB fought back.
UAB’s Chris Cokley finished the night with 15 points while Nate Darling and William Lee both had 12.
The Owls will look for redemption when they return home to face Marshall at 7 p.m. on Thursday. The Thundering Herd (17-8, 8-4) sits in fourth in the Conference USA standings and are currently on a three-game winning streak after beating Florida Atlantic, 79-68 on Saturday.