Techsters host Owls in C-USA showdown

Amaya Brannon

Courtesy of LA Tech Athletic Communications

The Louisiana Tech women’s basketball team ushers in the New Year by hosting Rice in a Conference USA match-up tonight at 6 p.m. inside the Thomas Assembly Center on Karl Malone Court. 

GAME INFORMATION
Date/Time: Thursday, Jan. 5 | 6 p.m. CT
Location: Thomas Assembly Center (Ruston, La.)
TV/Stream: CUSA.tv
Radio: KNBB 97.7 FM | LA Tech Athletics app
Stats: LATechSports.com/Stats | LA Tech Athletics app
Tickets: Purchase

ABOUT LOUISIANA TECH (8-5, 1-2 C-USA)
LA Tech fell to 1-2 in C-USA play after dropping the 2022 Conference Tournament title game rematch with Charlotte last Saturday, 57-66, despite Amaya Brannon’s first-career double-double, with 15 points and a career-high ten rebounds. 

Keiunna Walker also reached double figures for the seventh straight game and now sits four points away from 1,600 for her career and passing Shanavia Dowdell for No. 18 on the all-time scoring list. 

Mackenzie Wurm made her second career start and matched a career-high with three blocks, the third time she has done so this season.

Silvia Nativi added four assists with zero turnovers and improved her ranking to No. 2 in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio at 3.6. Nativi boasts 54 assists to just 15 turnovers. 

Tech owns the No. 1 spot in C-USA for defensive FG% at .356, allowing a league-best 57.2 PPG, while shooting 44.5 percent from the floor, good for No. 2 in C-USA, and averaging 65.8 PPG.

LA Tech is 8-0 this season when holding opponents to under 60 points and 7-1 when reaching the 60-point mark. Tech is also 6-0 when out rebounding the opposition this season. 

Tech is looking for win No. 598 all-time in Ruston.

ABOUT RICE (10-2, 1-2 C-USA)
Rice, who was picked fourth in the Conference USA preseason poll, got off to its best start in program history, winning their first nine contests, all in the non-conference slate, including three in a row at Texas A&M (66-58), TCU (68-58), and a 91-88 double overtime win over Houston. 

Thanks to the hot start Rice has received votes in the AP and USA Today polls while boasting C-USA’s second-best NET ranking at 83, behind Middle Tennessee (26).

Rice fell for the first time in their C-USA opener at home to Middle Tennessee (68-74) and again at home to WKU (74-79) before bouncing back at home with a 62-53 win over UTEP. Thursday will be Rice’s first road matchup in conference play. 

Rice is led by second-year head coach Lindsay Edmunds who is 24-15 at the helm after a 14-13 (8-9 C-USA) inaugural season where they Owls reached the C-USA tournament semifinals before falling to eventual champs Charlotte, 53-59.

Ashlee Austin, a C-USA second-team performer last season, was tabbed on the conference’s Preseason team and headlines a balanced Owl attack as one of four players averaging double figures at 13.5 PPG. Malia Fisher, who earned All-Freshman last season, scores 12.2 a game while leading the team with 8.3 RPG, tops in the conference. 

Rice’s 76.1 PPG is second in C-USA while shooting a league-best .467 from the floor. Rice is third is the league in three-point FG% (.318) and FT% (.731).

Tech will be just the third opponent for Rice this season outside the state of Texas, joining Saint Mary’s and Pacific. 

THE SERIES
Thursday’s matchup will be the 32nd overall meeting in the series, which began in 2000-01 and will feature a clash of styles with one of the highest-scoring offenses against the league’s stingiest defense. LA Tech won seven of the first nine, followed by alternating two wins each over the next ten. Tech then took the next four. 

LA Tech holds a slim 16-15 advantage in the series, but has won 11 of the 14 meetings in Ruston. 

The last time these two teams met, LA Tech produced one of the most historic nights in women’s basketball history. Keiunna Walker, and Anna Larr Roberson became the only duo, at any level of the women’s game, to register a 25-15-10 triple-double and 40-plus point night by a set of teammates. 

Walker recorded the fourth triple-double in program history, while Roberson scored the fifth-most points in a single game (44) on a record-tying 20 made field goals in a 90-80 double overtime victory. 

The win snapped a seven-game skid to the Owls and marked Tech’s first home-win over Rice since 2017-18. It was also the fifth time in series history a game has reached an overtime period and was first to reach double overtime. Four of the last 13 meetings have gone extra time.

TICKETS
Season and single-game tickets are on sale and can be purchased at LATechSports.com/Tickets or by calling the LA Tech Ticket Office at (318) 257-3631. 


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