Techsters wrap up CUSA regular season at Rice

HOUSTON – Louisiana Tech and Rice have played some memorable contests during the 27-game history of the series.

And the Owls and the Lady Techsters look to add two more chapters to this series Friday and Saturday at Tudor Fieldhouse. Tip-off for Friday is 2 p.m. and the game can be seen on CUSA.tv while Saturday’s contest is at 4 p.m. on ESPN+. Both games can be heard on the LA Tech Sports Network on KNBB 99.3 FM.

The Lady Techsters (13-7, 8-6) lead the all-time series 15-12, although the Owls have won four straight, including an overtime victory in Ruston last year. Rice enters the contest with a 22-game C-USA winning streak at home with its last loss coming at the hands of LA Tech in 2017-18.

“This Rice team is very good at home,” said Tech head coach Brooke Stoehr. “They are very confident at home. They are very comfortable at home. We are going to have to play with a great amount of intensity and confidence.”

Tech hasn’t played since a two-game road sweep at UAB two weekends ago. Games against Middle Tennessee last weekend were canceled due to travel issues caused by winter weather.

Rice (13-2, 9-1) flew past the weather but dropped its first Conference USA game, splitting a two-game road sweep at Marshall. The Thundering Herd defeated the Owls 68-56 Sunday afternoon to snap Rice’s 9-game winning streak. The only other loss by the Owls this season came at 4th ranked Texas A&M (57-53).

The Owls are led by 6-foot-9-inch Nancy Mulkey (16.3 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 3.2 bpg), who poses a huge defensive obstacle for opposing teams.

“It’s like when I played I knew I had Ayana Walker and Cheryl Ford and Takeisha Lewis behind me if I got beat, to block and alter shots,” said LA Tech head coach Brooke Stoehr. “You talk about having a rim protector, (Mulkey) is the epitome of that. She forces you to take tough shots, to alter your shots. She forces you to take contested jumpers.”

Rice ranks No 1 in C-USA in scoring defense (57.9 ppg) and field goal percentage defense (.341). The Owls have held seven opponents to under 55 points this year.

“They do a good job of defending without fouling so they don’t put teams at the free throw line. They keep people in front of them. They typically have good inside position because they are allowed to stay in front of you and they know if they do get beaten then they have a rim protector behind them to help. It starts on the defensive end with them.”

The Lady Techsters are no defensive slouch either. Tech ranks No. 2 in Conference USA in scoring defense (59.1 ppg) and No. 3 in field goal percentage defense (.384) and has held 13 of its 14 league opponents to 63 points or less.

Photo: Tom Morris


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