@LATechWBB, Rice Battle for C-USA Seeding
Feb. 28, 2018
HOUSTON, Texas -- Following a disappointing home loss to Charlotte two weeks ago, Louisiana Tech's hopes of earning a top four seed in the upcoming Conference USA Tournament in Frisco looked like a long shot.
Fast forward to the first day of March.
The Lady Techsters (18-10, 9-6) enter Thursday night's showdown with Rice (19-7, 9-5) coming off impressive back-to-back wins over Southern Miss (89-57) and UAB (70-60) and with an opportunity to put itself in outstanding position for a top 4 finish and a possible by in the league tournament.
Tech enters the contest in a tie for fourth place with Middle Tennessee, just a half game behind Rice as the Lady Techsters, Owls, Blue Raiders and Charlotte 49ers are all battling for the final two byes (WKU and UAB have secured two of the four).
The Lady Techsters are playing their best basketball of the season, especially on the road where head coach Brooke Stoehr's team has won three straight against Middle Tennessee, UTEP and UAB. Tech will face a challenge against Rice, a team that has a 15-game home winning streak dating back to last season. The Owls are 11-0 this year at Tudor Fieldhouse.
Tipoff for the contest is at 5 p.m. and the game can be heard on the LA Tech Sports Network on KNBB 97.7 FM and KTKC 92.9 FM with the pregame show starting at 4:30 p.m. Fans can also access the audio through the Louisiana Tech X mobile app. A video stream can be accessed through a subscription to CUSATV.com.
"I think (our road success) starts with the energy we have brought to the floor in those games," said Stoehr. "For us, it always starts with energy and effort. I think this time of the year the teams that are still enjoying playing and being around each other ... well you can tell by how they play and the effort they bring. This group is having fun right now."
Rice started the season winning 17 of its first 20 games before the Owls suffered a 75=55 loss to LA Tech on Feb. 7 at the Thomas Assembly Center. Since that game, Rice has lost four of its last six although all the losses have come on the road and the two wins came at home.
"They are a very good basketball team," said Stoehr. "They run the Princeton offense and that can be tough to defend. The first time we played, they turned it over and we capitalized by turning those into points. It was a ball game going into the fourth quarter in Ruston, and we were able to pull away. I expect both teams will be ready."
Rice leads Conference USA with 227 made three-pointers this season, only 15 shy of last year's school record of 242. Rice ranks 20th in the country in three-point field goal percentage (37.4) and 26th in three-pointers made per game (8.7).
Defensively, Rice have the No. 1 scoring defense in Conference USA play, allowing just 55.7 points per game. The Owls have held 17 of their last 19 opponents to below 70 points.
Tech leads the all-time series against the Owls 14-8, including a current three-game winning streak that includes a 70-67 overtime win in Houston last year. The victory is one of only four losses by Rice at home in its last 29 games.
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