The Rice Owls led from start to finish for a 75-59 victory over the Tulsa Golden Hurricane in Conference USA action in front of 486 fans at the Donald W. Reynolds Center Wednesday night. Tulsa (10-11, 4-6 C-USA) dropped its fourth straight game, while the Owls (11-12, 4-6 C-USA) snapped a five-game losing streak with the victory.
Rice's Jessica Kuster scored a game-high 24 points and added 11 rebounds and seven assists to lead the Owls, while teammate Christal Porter added 16 points and 13 rebounds. Tulsa sophomore Ashley Clark led the Hurricane with 16 points, followed by junior Kadan Brady's 15 and junior Mariah Turner with 10 points.
Despite making just 1-of-10 three-pointers, the Owls shot 48-percent overall from the field and held the Hurricane to 34-percent shooting.
Rice scored the first six points of the second half to increase a nine-point halftime lead to 15 points in the first three minutes and held the double-digit lead for the rest of the game. The Owls increased the its lead to 18 points at 48-30 on Nakachi Maduka layup with 14:57 remaining in the game.
Tulsa cut the Owls lead to 12 points at the 10:45 mark when Stevi Parker's free throw made the score 52-40, but that's as close as the Hurricane would get. Rice took a 21-point lead twice in the final four minutes, coming at 70-49 with 3:23 remaining and 73-52 less than one minute later.
Rice led the entire first half as well and took a 35-26 lead into halftime after shooting 48-percent from the field and holding Tulsa to just 28-percent from the floor during the first 20 minutes.
The Owls jumped out to a 5-0 lead as the Hurricane didn't score its first basket of the game until the 16:28 mark on a Kelsee Grovey three-pointer. Rice then went on a 6-0 run for an 11-3 lead at the 13:25 mark and took its largest first-half lead of 13 points at 25-12 with 7:26 left on the game clock.
Tulsa could only get as close as eight points on Turner's two free throws at the 3:47 mark, and then a layup by Turner with 0:06 remaining cut an 11-point Rice lead to nine points at the intermission.
Rice's Porter had nine first-half points, followed by Kuster's eight points. Brady led the Hurricane with nine points and Turner added eight points and a team-high seven rebounds in the first 20 minutes.