In front of a crowd of 821 at Tudor Fieldhouse, No. 11 Texas (3-0) defeated Rice (0-3) 70-47 in its first road game of the season Saturday afternoon.
Junior Brianna Taylor led the team with a career-high 17 points, while chipping in 7 rebounds and 2 assists. The Houston native made eight of her 11 field goals, including a perfect one-for-one from beyond the arc and two-for-two at the free throw line.
The game was tight early on with a jumper by freshman guard Lashann Higgs giving Texas its first lead, 10-9, with 3:01 left in the first quarter. From that point Rice outscored Texas 11-4, putting them down 20-14 after one quarter.
But Texas battled back, outscoring the Owls 18-8 in the second quarter to go into halftime with a 32-28 lead.
The Longhorns opened up the third quarter with a 6-2 run, before holding the Owls scoreless for the remainder of the quarter. With a 16-point lead headed into the fourth quarter, Texas never looked back.
Despite the early struggles, head coach Karen Aston said she was happy to come away with a win.
“I’m proud we found a way to win the game on the road,” Aston said. “We were out of sync for most of the day.”
Senior center Imani Boyette was particularly out of sync. She entered the game eight points short of becoming the 38th player in Texas history to reach 1,000 points, but scored just four points and had five turnovers. With foul trouble early on, the center didn’t score her first basket until early in the fourth quarter.
Fellow center, junior Kelsey Lang, also struggled, finishing with just two points and three turnovers.
Texas relied on its bench, who outscored the Owls 28 to 12, to overcome the Longhorns’ sluggish start. Aston said Taylor’s energy off the bench was the difference-maker.
“Brianna Taylor was the player of the game for us and not even because she was the leading scorer,” Aston said. “Her minutes were so energetic and valuable to us.”
Sophomore guard Brooke McCarty and Higgs joined Taylor in double digit scoring. McCarty scored 11 points on 6-of-9 shooting, while Higgs finished with 10 points and six rebounds.
As a team, Texas shot 47.5 percent from the field, while limiting Rice to a 33 percent shooting performance.
Sophomore guard Shani Rainey led Rice with a game-high 20 points on 5-of-8 shooting.
Texas faces Hampton (0-3) at the Frank Erwin Center Wednesday at 7 p.m.