Owls Host Brittney Griner & Defending National Champions Baylor
Nov. 26, 2012
No. 3 Baylor Lady Bears (5-1, 0-0 Big 12) at Rice Owls (2-3, 0-0 C-USA)
Game 6 Tuesday, November 27, 2012 7 p.m.
Houston, Texas Tudor Fieldhouse (5,750)
Series Record: Baylor leads 18-16
Rice Hosts Defending National Champions
The Owls host the 2011-12 NCAA Tournament Champion, No. 3 Baylor, at Tudor Fieldhouse, marking the first time that Rice has hosted the defending national champions since 2001-02. The Lady Bears are led by Nimitz HS product Brittney Griner, who makes a return to Houston in her senior year. The Owls are led by C-USA Preseason Player of the Year Jessica Kuster, who faces an opposing Preseason Player of the Year for the second time this season.
Briefly On The Owls
The Owls play the defending national champions for the first time since Dec. 28, 2001, a 72-61 victory over Notre Dame at Autry Court
Jessica Kuster was named C-USA Preseason Player of the Year, and faces Houston native Brittney Griner, who was named Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year in this game.
The Owls begin a seven game-homestand that spans from Nov. 27 to Dec. 30. Rice plays 12 of its next 13 games in the state of Texas.
Jessica Kuster is third in C-USA in scoring and third in rebounding
Megan Palmer is fourth in points and second in rebounds among C-USA freshmen
Last time Baylor visted the Owls, 1,311 fans attended, setting the Tudor Fieldhouse mark for women's basketball. The Rice home record is 3,704, set on Feb. 22, 1998 vs. Hawaii.
Rice vs. Baylor
Baylor holds a slight edge in the all-time series against Rice, 18-16, with the Lady Bears winning the last five meetings, all of which have come since the breakup of the Southwest Conference. The Owls are 9-3 against Baylor at home since 1985-86, but the Lady Bears have won the last two matchups in Houston.
Preseason Players Of The Year Meet
Rice's Jessica Kuster and Baylor's Brittney Griner were both named preseason player of the year in their respective conferences. This is the second of two meetings Rice has with an opposing Preseason Player of the Year, after Rice downed Prairie View A&M and SWAC Preseason Player of the Year Latia Williams on Nov. 9
Jessica Kuster Brittney Griner
Rice School Baylor
Forward Position Post
Junior Classification Senior
San Antonio, Texas Hometown Houston, Texas
19.0 Points 18.7
9.4 Rebounds 5.5
2.0 Assists 1.0
1.2 Blocks 1.8
16.0 PPG vs. Top 25 24.5
5.0 RPG vs. Top 25 7.0
C-USA Preseason Player of the Year National, Big 12
Rice vs. The Defending National Champion
Rice has played the defending national champion five times, most recently on Dec. 28, 2001, when the Owls defeated reigning champs Notre Dame 72-61 in Autry Court, and have not lost to the defending national champions since 1993-94. The Owls are 1-4 against the reigning national champion and 0-7 against the eventual national champion.
Griner Returns To Houston
Baylor senior Brittney Griner, a native of Houston, returns home on Nov. 27 with her Bear teammates to take on the Owls at Tudor Fieldhouse. The Nimitz High School graduate was Player of the Year in 2011-12 and Preseason Player of the Year in 2012-13 by every major service. The Bears went 40-0 to win the NCAA Title in 2011-12, and won 42 striaght games until losing to now-No. 1 Stanford on Nov. 16. Griner has not played in Houston since her senior year of high school.
Rice vs. Ranked Teams
Rice is 9-80 all-time against teams ranked in the Top 25, and is 4-42 against teams ranked in the Top 10, as Baylor is. Greg Williams has two wins against the Top 25 in his tenure, defeating No. 14 Texas Tech in 2005-06 and No. 10 Texas A&M in 2006-07. Rice has played the third-ranked team in the nation five times, and lost all five of those matchups.
Rice plays three of the last four schools to win a national championship in 2012-13, having lost to 2007 and 2008 champion Tennessee on Nov. 15, 2012 champion Baylor visits Houston for this game and 2011 champion Texas A&M hosts Rice on Jan. 1. Rice does not play UConn, who won the 2009 and 2010 titles.
Playing Into March
Since entering C-USA in 2005-06, Rice has the most postseason appearances of any C-USA school, having reached the postseason in four seasons (2006, 2006, 2011, 2012). Memphis, SMU, and Tulane have reached the postseason three times since 2005-06, and 11 of the 12 C-USA schools have reached the postseason at least once.
Last Time Against Baylor (Nov. 14, 2010)
WACO, Texas - No. 2 Baylor had four players reach double-digits in scoring en route to a 95-51 victory over Rice in the World Vision Classic at the Ferrell Center in front of 6,723 fans. The Bears outscored Rice 21 to 4 in the first 9 minutes of the contest and led at the half 59-24. The Owls shot 31 percent and were led by guards Jessica Goswitz and D'Frantz Smart who scored 12 and 11 points respectively. Megan Elliott added 9 points and Opal Taskila scored 8. Jessica Kuster led Rice in rebounding with 9 boards to go with 4 points and 3 blocks.
The Tudor Fieldhouse attendance record for women's basketball was set on Nov. 23, 2008, when Rice met No. 10 Baylor in front of 1,311 fans, a 83-58 Baylor victory. The Rice home record for women's basketball was set on Feb. 22, 1998, when 3,704 fans came to Autry Court to see Rice upset No. 16 Hawai'i 76-71.
Eyes On The Owls
On Nov. 15, 10,981 fans saw the Rice Owls take on Tennessee in Thompson-Boling Arena, the largest crowd to watch a Rice women's basketball game since Nov. 22, 2004, when 11,876 fans saw Rice take on Texas Tech.
Rice Ninth-Youngest Team In Division I
Rice is tied for the ninth-youngest team in Division 1 in terms of years of senior college experience. The Owls have 13 years of experience among the 12 players on the roster, the youngest average experience in C-USA.
Youngest Teams In Division I (By Years of Collegiate Experience)
Rank School Avg. Exp. Players
1. San Jose State .444 4 9
2. Temple .727 8 11
SIU-Carbondale .727 8 11
4. Clemson .833 10 12
Florida .909 10 11
6. Dayton 1.000 12 12
Southern Miss 1.091 12 11
Tennessee 1.091 12 11
9. Rhode Island 1.000 13 13
CS Fullerton 1.000 13 13
Rice 1.083 13 12
The Owls just finished a four-game, four-city road trip, and have had at least a four-city, four-game road swing every year since 2006-07:
2012-13 1-3 Tennessee, Tennessee Tech, Texas State, UALR
2011-12 1-3 Stephen F. Austin, UTSA, Lamar, UAB
2010-11 3-1 UALR, HBU, Northwestern State, Texas State
2009-10 1-3 SMU, Tulsa, UCF, Southern Miss
2008-09 1-4 Hofstra, Lafayette, Tenn.-Martin (neutral), Mississippi, UTSA
2007-08 2-2 Tulane, UTEP, SMU, Tulsa
2006-07 3-1 Southern Miss, UCF, SMU, Tulsa
O wls Start Strong Against Lady Vols
Despite falling in the contest 101-48, Rice scared No. 24 Tennessee, leading the Lady Vols until the 9:05 mark of the first half. Rice and Tennessee traded baskets for the first three possessions, before the Owls took the lead at 8-6 with 17:25 remaining in the first half. The Owls led by as much as 6, at 22-16. Jessica Kuster at several points had as many points as the entire Lady Vol team, starting the game 5-for-5 with 12 points. The Lady Vols took the lead at 23-22 with a Cierra Burdick jumper and did not trail afterwards.
Kuster Reaches 1,000 Points
Jessica Kuster became the 18th Rice player to reach 1,000 points in a career with 16 points against Tennessee on Nov. 15. She is the eighth Rice player to have reached the 1,000 point plateau in her junior season. Morgan Mayse was the last Rice player to reach 1,000 points, accomplishing the feat in 2010-11. At two games into her 3rd season, she is the quickest Rice player to reach 1,000 points.
Rice At Tennessee In Historic Game
On Nov. 15, Rice opened a new era in women's basketball, as the Owls faced Tennessee in the Lady Vols' first home game since 1973 with someone other than Pat Summitt coaching the team. Holly Warlick, a long-time Summit assistant and player, takes over the helm for the Lady Vols. Summit, one of the legends of collegiate athletics, won six national titles before stepping down after 2011-12 due to her battle with Alzheimer's.
For the second consecutive year, Rice took a senior to her hometown to play a non-conference game. Jessica Goswitz of Knoxville's Webb School played in front of 60 friends and family members at Tennessee on Nov. 15. D'Frantz Smart, currently a student assistant for the Owls, played in front of her family at Chicago State last season, a 77-50 win for the Owls. The product of Chicago's Whitney Young High School had five assists and eight steals in that game. All of Rice's other seniors since 2010-11 have been from Texas.
Rice junior Jessica Kuster was named C-USA Preseason Player of the Year, as voted upon by the league's coaches. The selection is Kuster's second straight appearance on the Preseason All-C-USA Team. Kuster is the first Rice player to be named C-USA Preseason Player of the Year since Lauren Neaves prior to the 2005-06 season. In the same poll, the Owls were picked to finish fourth in the league by the league's coaches.
2012-13 marks the final year of the current alignment of C-USA, which has not changed since Rice entered the league for 2005-06. C-USA adds Louisiana Tech, Old Dominion, Charlotte, UTSA, FIU and North Texas for 2012-13. Louisiana Tech won the 1982 and 1988 NCAA Championships, and has ten Final Four appearances; Old Dominion won the 1985 NCAA Championship and has three Final Four appearances; Charlotte has made nine consecutive postseason appearances; UTSA has won five conference championships since 2000; FIU has made 12 postseason appearances; and North Texas engineered one of the nation's best turnarounds in 2011-12. Houston, Memphis, SMU and UCF depart C-USA after this season to join the Big East.
Rice plays seven teams from last season's NCAA Tournament field a total of eight times, and has a total of 11 games against postseason participants from a year ago. Prairie View A&M, Tennessee, UALR, Baylor, McNeese St., Texas A&M, and UTEP reached the NCAA Tournament in 2011-12
Rice is 28-14 since 2009-10 at Tudor Fieldhouse. The Owls are 10-5 in their home since the start of 2011-12.
Rice welcomed WNBA standout Taj McWilliams-Franklin to the staff this summer, but she joined the Owls on November 5th, after finishing her season with the Minnesota Lynx, who advanced to the WNBA Finals for a second straight year. McWilliams-Franklin, nicknamed "Mama Taj," averaged 8.4 points and 5.4 rebounds, in addition to starting 33 of 34 games for the Western Conference Champions in 2012.
Moussa Represents Egypt
Reem Moussa represented Egypt in the FIBA Africa AfroBasket U18 tournament this summer. She averaged 6.7 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and had a field goal percentage of .407 for the Egyptians in six games, as they took Bronze, only losing two games in the tournament. She started three games in the tournament, and posted her tournament-high with 18 points against Tunsia.
Breast Cancer Awareness On Dec. 1
The Owls support breast cancer awareness in partnership with the Avon Blue Bonnet Crusaders on Dec. 1 against McNeese State. Pink adhesive notes with names of people who have battled breast cancer written on it are to be placed in the lobby of Tudor Fieldhouse on game day.