Mulkey, Owls outlast upset-minded Herd


Richard Crank

Tony Kemper coaches his team during a timeout in Marshall’s C-USA game against LA Tech.

Marshall’s upset bid fell short Saturday afternoon, as visiting Rice shot a school-record 68.1 percent from the field to defeat the Thundering Herd, 79-67, at the Cam Henderson Center.

Senior guard Shayna Gore credited the Herd for continuing to fight despite the loss against the top team in the conference.

“This is what I like and love about this team,” Gore said. “We just fight. We don’t care who you are. We’re going to lace up just like you are. We’re going to fight you until the end of the buzzer. I’m proud of my team’s effort tonight.”

The Owls not only used their tough offense and defense to overcome the Herd, but its height advantage soared into action to take the win.

The Herd dropped to 14-10, (8-3 C-USA) and the Owls improved to 20-3 (11-0 C-USA). The Owls remain unbeaten in conference play. However, the Herd never gave up its fight.

“(I’m) proud of our fight,” Head women’s basketball coach Tony Kemper said. “Disappointed we didn’t win. I thought they (Rice) were going to be very good, and they are. They get a ton of credit for being a great team, which they are.”

For the Herd, only two players scored in double figures. Senior guard Shayna Gore led all scorers with 31, her highest total in a home game. Gore shot 43.4 percent (10-of-23) in field goals. Redshirt senior guard Taylor Porter followed behind with 19 points, making 70 percent (7-of-10) of shots. Sophomore guard Kristen Mayo and freshman guard Kia Sivils both had five points apiece.

The Herd made 42.6 percent (23-of-54) of its baskets, including 41.9 percent (13-of-31) from beyond the arc.

“We were ready to fight,” Kemper said. “I think what we tried to do made a lot of sense. We went after them in kind of the only fashion that we could, which was try to make Mulkey guard us on the perimeter. We just couldn’t get enough stops.”

The undefeated Owls were led by four different players in double figures. Redshirt sophomore center Nancy Mulkey led the visitors, scoring 25 points. Mulkey, the six-foot nine center, shot 85.7 percent (12-of-14) in total field goals. Junior guard Erica Ogwumike trailed behind with 21 points, making 61.5 percent (8-of-13) of her attempts. Sophomore guard Sydne Wiggins followed with 15 points, connecting on 80 percent (4-of-5) of three-pointers. Senior guard Lauren Grigsby had 10 points, with a perfect 100 percent (4-of-4) shooting percentage.

Porter said that preparation and focus come in handy when looking forward in conference play.

“We weren’t that prepared honestly,” Porter said. “We messed up a couple of things that we shouldn’t have messed up. That comes back to focus, so we got to focus better.”

Rice had 48 of its 79 points come from inside the paint. The Herd had only 16 points inside the paint.

“I’m very proud. If we’re made of the right stuff, then we’ll learn a lot from this too,” Kemper said. “We scored enough to win, but we didn’t guard well enough to win.”

The Herd will begin its two-game conference road trip to the University of Alabama at Birmingham on Thursday evening, followed by Middle Tennessee. Tipoff for the first of two games is set for 7 p.m.