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Hot-shooting Rice holds off MU women with late run

February 10, 2019

HUNTINGTON — There’s a reason the Rice University women’s basketball team came into Cam Henderson Center undefeated in Conference USA play.

On Saturday, the Owls showed exactly what has made them successful.

Rice shot 68 percent from the floor and thwarted every Marshall University run in a 79-67 Saturday victory over the Thundering Herd. A crowd of 1,042 spectators turned out for Marshall’s afternoon contest against the league leader.

“Are we ready for prime time? No. That’s the answer and we just saw it,” Marshall head coach Tony Kemper said. “We are in our fight; we are not in the amount of mistakes that we made that you just can’t make to beat a team that’s been that well-constructed for that long.”

Rice (20-3, 11-0 C-USA) extended its winning streak to 13 games, but it did not come easy as Marshall pushed the Owls throughout the contest.

However, as the stretch run hit, the Owls were able to use their inside play to forge a 12-2 run that ended the game. Most of the damage was done by 6-foot-9 center Nancy Mulkey and forward Erica Ogwumike, who combined for all 12 points during the late push.

Mulkey made 12 of 14 shots, scored 25, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked five shots. Ogwumike added 21 points and 10 rebounds.

Prior to the final push, however, Marshall (14-10, 8-3 C-USA) used its strong perimeter play to stay in the game. Shayna Gore continued her strong scoring with 31 points on 10-for-23 shooting while Taylor Porter added 19 points. The senior guards both made five 3-point shots.

Unlike Thursday’s win over North Texas, the Herd wasn’t able to find other scoring options with nobody else scoring more than five.

Marshall cut the lead to 67-65 on a Taylor Pearson 3-pointer with 6:31 left, but it was the Herd’s final field goal of the game. After hitting 50 percent of its shots through three quarters, the Herd hit just one of 10 in the fourth quarter.

In the second quarter, Rice used a late 6-0 run, highlighted by a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Sydne Wiggins, to take a 46-37 lead at halftime. Rice continued its strong play early in the third quarter, using a 10-3 run to build its biggest lead at 56-40.

Gore followed with a personal 10-0 run before Porter hit three 3-pointers in the final four minutes of the third quarter to pull Marshall within 63-61 after three periods.

“Again, these two (Gore and Porter) get a lot of credit for not backing down,” Kemper said.

Marshall didn’t lead in the contest as Rice raced out to a quick lead and held the Herd at bay. The Owls’ offense worked seamlessly in the first half with 78 percent shooting for the first two quarters, including a 9-of-10 effort in the second quarter.

Wiggins added 15 points for Rice while Lauren Grigsby also reached double figures with 10.

Marshall returns to action Thursday at UAB and Saturday at Middle Tennessee.

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