Women’s basketball preview: Owls look to end six-game slide playing host to Rice and North Texas this week

FAU will play its final home games of the season, looking to improve its conference record.


Owls’ senior guard Ali Gorrell (23) dribbles past a UAB defender. Gorrell totaled 12 points during FAU’s 67-62 loss to the Blazers on Feb. 6. Mohammed F. Emran

Hans Belot Jr., Contributing Writer

Currently riding a six-game losing streak, the Owls are running out of time to move up the conference standings for the upcoming tournament, with only five games remaining on the schedule.

The Owls (11-13, 3-10 Conference USA) will play host to Rice University (5-18, 4-8 Conference USA) and the University of North Texas (8-14, 3-9 Conference USA) this week, looking to win their final home games of the season.

FAU is coming off two of its worst offensive outputs of the season in its road trip to Texas last week, averaging only 50.1 points and shooting only 31 percent from the field, losing to the University of Texas at San Antonio 57-54 and to UTEP 75-47.

Here’s what you need to know for both upcoming matchups:

Rice Owls:

Although it’s coming off a 68-46 win over Old Dominion, Rice has lost seven of its last nine games since Jan. 14 — giving up an average of 64 points per game during that stretch.

Rice is the worst scoring team in Conference USA, averaging only 57 points per game and shooting 36 percent from the field. Junior Jasmine Goodwine — Rice’s leading scorer at 12.7 points per game — is shooting 44 percent from the field, but only 26 percent from the three-point line.

Although they haven’t scored much, the Rice Owls rank No. 8 in Conference USA in assists per game at 13. Junior Maya Hawkins is fourth in the conference, at 4.4 assists per game.

Rice also ranks 12 out of 14 in the conference in three-point field goal percentage at 29 percent. Although its best three-point shooter has been freshman Lauren Grigsby at 37 percent, Hawkins has attempted a team-high 123 three-point field goals, making 36, or 29 percent.

Rice has its struggles on defense as well, giving up 65 points per game and allowing opponents to shoot 32 percent from behind the arc, which is the fifth highest in the conference.

The Owls rank second to last in the conference in scoring margin, getting outscored by 7.7 points per game.

North Texas Mean Green:

North Texas — currently on a five-game losing streak — has lost nine of its last 11 games, averaging 57 points over that stretch. They are averaging 60 points per game over the season, which ranks No. 12 in the 14-team conference.

The Mean Green’s offensive duties are led by four players averaging double digit points, led by junior Kelsey Criner’s 12.5 points per game to go along with five assists per game, which is third best in the conference.

Although North Texas is one of the lowest scoring teams, it’s ranked fifth in Conference USA in field goal percentage, at 41 percent per game. Sophomore Bria Frierson and senior Archeil Tac lead the team in field goal percentage at 66 percent and 56 percent respectively.

North Texas also gives up an average of 65 points per game — ranked No. 11 in Conference USA — and allows opponents to shoot 40 percent from the field.


The Owls must get back to their winning days, and the key to defeating Rice will be to improve their defensive play. FAU is giving up 72 points per game, ranked second to last in Conference USA, allowing opponents to shoot 43 percent from the field.

FAU’s offense will also try to take advantage of Rice’s poor defense of the three-point shot, as FAU is ranked fifth in the nation in made 3-pointers — at 235 — for the season.

The Owls’ three-point success has been led by sophomore forward Sasha Cedeno —  who has been FAU’s most efficient 3-point shooter this season shooting 46 percent from long range — and junior guard Kat Wright, who has made a team-high 67 3-pointers.  

To defeat North Texas, FAU will try to take advantage of North Texas’ poor interior defense early, before letting it fly from long range.

The Mean Green ranks last in Conference USA at 1.5 blocks per game, and the Owls will not be shy about taking advantage inside.

FAU will also use its efficient ball movement to keep North Texas moving, as the Owls average a conference second-best 14 assists per game.

Defensively, the Owls will look to keep North Texas in the struggle they’ve been in, making only 29 percent of its 3-point attempts over the team’s last 12 games. FAU is one of the worst teams in the conference when it comes to defending the three-point line, allowing opponents to shoot 34 percent.

Although the Mean Green has taken the fewest number of 3-pointers in Conference USA this season — 301 — the team is shooting 34 percent over the season and will look to take advantage if FAU does not run it off the three-point line.

Look for the Owls to play their hearts out in both games, looking to snap their losing streak. They also hope to finish their last home games strong, as they currently hold a 9-5 record at the Burrow. This weekend will give the fans an insight into what to expect for the conference tournament.

FAU will host Rice on Thursday, Feb. 18, at 7 p.m. and the North Texas game will take place on Saturday, Feb. 20, at 5 p.m.

Hans Belot Jr. is a contributing writer with the University Press. To contact him on this or other stories, he can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter.