Two evenly matched teams who both are fighting for a spot at post-season play. Coming off a loss at UTEP, the Lady Spartans need to win to stay within striking distance of second place.
Rice, currently in second place, is fighting to maintain that spot. This ought to be a great game.
Despite their slightly above average record (9-7), Rice is a solid, solid team. They have played one of the toughest preseason schedules in the league, including games against top-ranked Stanford, Nebraska, Baylor and LSU.
They lost all four games, with only the Nebraska game being close, but it really toughened them up and prepared them for the riggers of the WAC season.
It also may have opened some eyes of the NCAA selection committee. If they can finish a strong second in the WAC, they will get an invitation to the Dance. Especially since they have already beaten perennially WAC favorite La Tech.
For your Lady Spartans: A disappointing loss at UTEP probably made them madder at themselves that at the Miners.
Cold shooting from the field and not taking care of the ball doomed them in a game that they should have won. UTEP played a great game at home, but with about 10 minutes to go, the Spartans had pulled to within six and had momentum going into the final stretch.
But playing uphill and against themselves all game took its toll and SJSU fell to their third WAC defeat. They really cannot afford to loss many more conference games.
And the Lady Spartans need this game. They hit the road for three tough road games, cumulating with a rematch with La Tech.
They would love to be on a roll before they go into Ruston. For Rice, they have UTEP breathing down their necks. The Lady Miners are just a game out of second and they are currently on a five game winning streak.
The Lady Owls would love to keep some distance on UTEP.
Probable Match ups: Michelle Woods (6-2) V. Tatiana Taylor (6-0) The stock on junior Woods is a rising high.
The Rice Owlette is the team's leading scorer and one of the team's leading rebounders. She is a complete player: Runs the floor well, nice post up moves, and can step out and hit a three. Top defender, too. Taylor and her twin Teoma again get a tough assignment. But I like their chances.
If the Taylor twins can neutralize Woods, the Spartans will win this game. The Taylor twins have been warriors for the Spartans all season long. You have to catch their act before they graduate this year.
Match up #2: Ann Peck 6-2 V. Lamisha Augustine 6-1
Freshman Lauren Neaves has been getting the starting nod lately for the Owls, but for this game, I think they will go with the experience and post play of Peck. And it will be a great choice.
Peck is a solid post player: Always around the basket and has a great nose for the ball. She is a solid player and was highly recruited out of high school, playing a season a Michigan State.
The junior Augustine is assuming more and more responsibilities as the season where on. More of an outside threat then Peck; she too can post up and play aggressive defense.
Match up #3: Lindsey Maynard 5-10 V. Cricket Williams 5-7
Here's where the game will be won: Two of the top senior guards in the WAC going head-to-head. Winner takes all.
Rice's Maynard is a really nice player. A three year starter for the Owls, she is really their go-to player. Can shoot the three, but not her best shot. Don't foul her; she is deadly at the foul line.
Williams is going out as one of the all-time great Spartans basketball players: Off any gender. Like the Taylor twins, you really ought to catch her show before she leaves town. Plays with fury and intensity not seen in these parts in a long time. Has guarded the top guards in the WAC and never backs down. Terrific player.
Match up #4: Amber Cunningham G 5-10 V. Erica McGlaston G 5-7
The sophomore Cunningham is being groomed as the heir apparent to Maynard for the Owls. She will lead the team the next two year. Still is very young and she will make some mental mistakes. But a rising talent in the WAC.
Let her shoot the three, but stop her on the break. She is also the player to foul at the end of the game. Like Cunningham, McGlaston is also in training to take over the team (from Cricket). But Erica is a little more advanced. Solid player, doesn't make many mistakes, plays under control. A steady hand to Williams' fury.
Match up #5: Eshombi Singleton 5-8 V. Chenne Tuimoloau 5-9
If the Rice Owls go for a three-guard look, they will go with Singleton. They may start freshman Lauren Neaves (6-2) at a post position. It really depends on the game plan coach McKinney goes with coming off the Hawaii game. She might want to slow the game down with bigger players.
Don't be surprised if freshman Krystal Frasier gets the call. Tuimoloau had an off game versus UTEP, but she has the talent to turn it around. Chenne is going to have to come up big for this game—she is the team's fourth leading scorer and she will be counted on to get into double-digits.
Rice has a very deep, but young bench. If Peck does not start expect her to be the first one off the pine. Senior Elisa Inman is one of tallest players on the team (6-2). She provides a steady hand and consistent offense for the Owls.
Latrice Elder (5-7) comes in at the point and Kate Beckler (5-8) will come in at the off-guard position. Beckler is the team's designated sniper: She will fire at will from the three-point line.
Tatiana's twin Teoma Taylor (6-0) has plenty of experience and skill for the team. More of a low-post player than her sister, Teoma will work hard and fight for each position. She is also the team's third-leading scorer.
I believe Jessica Kellogg (5-7) is still out with a leg injury. They could really use her shooting. Nica Gemo had an off game against UTEP; however, the team will need her to step up and be more of a factor the rest of the WAC season.
Senior Kayla Forster (6-3) has been solid and steady. She may log a lot of minutes if Gemo struggles.
Freshmen Lindsay Harris played well against UTEP and may have earned her so more minutes.
Rice will be coming in from out on the Island, so they may be a little fatigued. The Spartans got to get at them from the opening tip-off. If they let the Owls hang around, they will lose this game.
However, look for coach Richards to have this team primed for, what would be, a big upset.
Important game for both teams, but the Spartans need it more.
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