Women’s basketball: Rice hands over seventh straight loss in battle of Owls

Self-inflicted wounds cost FAU comeback in second half

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Women’s basketball: Rice hands over seventh straight loss in battle of Owls

Head coach Kellie Lewis-Jay speaks to her players during her team's Feb. 18, 2016 loss to Rice.  PhotoMohammed F. Emran

Head coach Kellie Lewis-Jay speaks to her players during her team's Feb. 18, 2016 loss to Rice. PhotoMohammed F. Emran

Head coach Kellie Lewis-Jay speaks to her players during her team's Feb. 18, 2016 loss to Rice. PhotoMohammed F. Emran

Head coach Kellie Lewis-Jay speaks to her players during her team's Feb. 18, 2016 loss to Rice. PhotoMohammed F. Emran

Ryan Lynch, Multimedia Editor

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With head coach Kellie Lewis-Jay celebrating her birthday on a game day for the first time in her four seasons as coach of the Owls, Florida Atlantic women’s basketball was unable to capture a win for her in a 75-54 loss to Rice Thursday night.

Turnovers took FAU (11-14, 3-10 C-USA) out of the game early, as it had seven giveaways in the first two quarters of play. Rice (6-18, 5-8 C-USA) took advantage of the Owls’ mistakes — during that stretch, it shot 53.3 percent from the field — on its way to a 38-30 halftime lead.

“We just keep shooting ourselves in the foot,” Lewis-Jay said of the mistakes. “It’s been one of our keys for the last four or five games to not have unforced turnovers. You look at those turnovers you’re talking about and you look at how many of them were forced and actually taken or stolen from us or it’s us making bad decisions, it’s us traveling. The unforced turnovers are definitely killing us.”

FAU finished the game with 14 turnovers, giving Rice a total of 10 points.

A poor shooting performance in the second half solidified Rice’s control of the game, as the Florida-based Owls went on to only hit 36 percent of their shots. With 10 points each, redshirt senior guard Ali Gorrell, sophomore guard Nika Zyryanova and sophomore forward Sasha Cedeno were the only Owls to hit double-digit scoring.

Zyryanova did not play in the first half, scoring all of her points in the last two quarters.

Rice, which is second among all Conference USA teams with 14.6 assists a game, was able to record 15 assists, marking the team’s fifth straight game with 15 or more assists. That ball movement gave the Texas-based Owls the opportunity to record their third-highest scoring total of the season — allowing four different players to record double-digit points.

“They’re running their system well right now,” Lewis-Jay said. “It’s taken them a little while to pick it up and figure it out, but now that they have, they’re running it well.”

Junior Jasmine Goodwine registered her 10th game in a row with 10 or more points, leading Rice with 19 points on the night. Sophomore guard Shani Raini had 16 points, while senior forward Alyssa Lang and junior guard Maya Hawkins each had 11 points.

The FAU Owls have now lost their last seven games and 11 of their last 12. The win is the Rice Owls’ first on the road in C-USA play, having previously gone 0-4.

FAU plays its final home game of the season on Feb. 20 versus North Texas at 5 p.m. The game will be senior night for both Morgan Robison and Gorrell.

“Morgan’s been with me for four years now, and Morgan and Ali deserve for that team to play hard for them on Saturday and give everything they got for a win,”  Lewis-Jay said.

Ryan Lynch is the multimedia editor of the University Press. For tips regarding this or other articles, he can be contacted at [email protected] or on Twitter.